PAARL - Meat industry representatives are hoping to come up with a plan to appease angry South Africans.
They are expected to meet consumer groups to discuss labelling and safety in Paarl later today.
The South African Medical Association (SAMA) warned on Tuesday that consumers with existing allergies to certain types of meat, could face life threatening reactions if they consume products that are incorrectly labelled.
This includes anaphylaxtic shock which could be fatal if not attended to as an emergency.
A recent Stellenbosch University study found that of the 139 meat products tested, nearly 60% contained ingredients such as donkey, water buffalo, goat and pork not mentioned on the labelling.
Some branches of supermarket giants such as Pick 'n Pay, Shoprite, Woolworths and Spar have been fingered in the report.
Meanwhile SAMA's Dr Phophi Ramathuba said it was concerning that information was withheld from consumers.
“From a medical point of view our main concern is that individuals react differently to different types of meat. There are people allergic to pork but we are not sure about donkeys and other species since in SA we don’t eat them,” she said.
Ramathuba said there were different symptoms related to the allergic reactions that people could experience if mixed-meat was consumed.
"Symptoms and signs range from a runny nose, hoarseness, coughing, difficulty swallowing, eczema, vomiting and abdominal pains which often go untreated as the body heals itself,” she said.
But she added the more severe symptoms could be fatal.
"Signs like swelling of the tongue and throat which hampers breathing, blocked nostrils and bronchospasms can cause breathing complications. Anaphylaxis is also life-threatening if not attended to and can lead to death,” said Ramathuba.
Ramathuba said: “Treatment of an allergy is avoidance of the substance causing it. How do we avoid this when we don’t know what to avoid?".
"But most of the time the allergy goes unnoticed,” said Ramathuba.
UPDATE: This existing article has been edited to include a meeting of meat industry officials to discuss the issue of mislabelled meat in chain stores.
-- Additional reporting Christine Grove