New guidelines proposed by the UK Food Standard Agencies would prevent traders labelling fat and gristle as ‘meat’.

Currently, meat distributors are able to include fat and gristle in their calculations when they work out what percentage of meat their product includes. Once the proposed guidelines are adopted, only flesh with permitted levels of gristle, cartilage and fat will count as meat in the list of ingredients.

The guidelines will make it easier for consumers to know exactly what they are buying. According to one example from the FSA, a burger previously labelled as containing 82% beef actually had only 71% meat – with the remaining content being fat and gristle. In future, the label would only be able to claim 71% meat.

David Statham, director of enforcement and food standards at the FSA, said: “If I buy a cut of meat I expect it to have some fat and maybe some gristle. What I don’t expect it to have is extra fat added over and above that and called meat. The vast majority of our sausages will not only be protected but they will have the right amount of meat and real meat in them.”