Consumers are often being misled by minced meat labels that claim that the product contains less fat than it actually does, according to a survey by the UK's government-backed Food Standards Agency.

In the case of products claiming to be 'extra' or 'super' lean, some in fact contained as much if not more fat than 'lean' mince. 

The survey compared the fat content of 'standard' minced meat with mince claiming to be 'lean' or 'extra/super lean'. It also checked whether the fat content on the nutrition labels was accurate. The FSA looked at 561 samples of fresh and frozen minced meat, including 444 samples of beef.

The survey found that the amount of fat in standard beef mince ranged from 1.9g to 32.3g per 100g. Several samples of 'extra' or 'super' lean mince had higher fat contents than some 'lean' mince, while 55 of the 308 samples giving nutrition information on the label contained more fat than the label claimed.

"Consumers expect products described as 'extra' or 'super' lean to contain less fat than 'lean' mince. Indeed people often pay a premium price for such products, and yet this survey highlights the fact that some of the products described as 'extra' or 'super' lean actually contain as much fat, if not more, than 'lean' mince," said David Statham, director of enforcement and food standards at the FSA.

"The Food Standards Agency did this survey to see if consumers were getting accurate information. It is clear that in some cases they are not. The Agency now intends to consult on the development of its own guidelines for the terms that are used to describe the fat content of mince. We want food manufacturers and retailers to sign up to clear definitions and descriptions and ensure that their products meet them," he added.

Where the survey found examples of nutrition labels with inaccurate fat levels, the FSA said it has asked local authorities to take action.

For more information about the survey, click here.