The UK’s Food Standards Agency is to investigate what exactly goes into salamis and similar meat products being sold in the UK, to see whether they may contain horse or donkey meat. 

The FSA said it is undertaking this work because of concerns that some salamis and similar products, such as chorizo and pastrami, may contain horsemeat without it being declared.

Earlier this year, the FSA funded an informal survey by five local authorities to investigate whether horse or donkey meat was present in 24 salamis that they sampled. Three of the 24 salamis were found to contain horsemeat, which was not declared in the ingredients list.

Rosemary Hignett, the FSA’s head of food labelling, said: “There are concerns that UK consumers could unwittingly be eating horse and perhaps donkey meat when they buy a salami or similar product.

“Some people may prefer not to eat these products, even though food safety is not the issue and they are often traditional recipes.

“We do not yet know the scale of the problem, but we want to find out.

“It is important that people know what they are eating and can make an informed choice about whether or not they want to eat it.

“We are going to undertake a major survey of these products over the summer to find out exactly what is in the salamis that people eat, and whether that matches the ingredients list.”

The FSA said it would conduct a survey of over 100 salamis and salami type products, the results of which will be published.

Samples will be collected by local authorities across the country over the summer and will be taken from retail outlets such as supermarkets and delicatessens, as well as catering suppliers.