British food technicians checking “New Zealand lamb mince” being sold in England allege it has four times the legal level of added water.

County analysts for Lancashire Trading Standards said their tests had found the imported lamb products contained illegal levels of water, the Lancashire Telegraph newspaper reported.

The Lancashire County Council analysts were checking foods sold in local shops were true to label, but found New Zealand lamb mince had up to 21 per cent of added water that had not been declared on the labelling.

Legislation allowed a “tolerance” of 5 per cent for added water, but results from 10 tested packets varied from 9.3 per cent to 21.2 per cent added water.

“Repeat testing is also being considered for the future, to ensure that changes have been made,” a county spokesman said.

But a spokesman for the Meat Industry Association in Wellington, which represents meat processors and exporters, said New Zealand exported little, if any lamb mince to the UK.

“NZ lamb mince sold in the UK is manufactured in the UK and therefore New Zealand meat producers have no control over ensuring that the UK labelling requirements are met,” said the spokesman, Kevin Creswell.

“The meat industry would be very concerned if products not meeting the legal requirements are being sold in the UK as New Zealand product.”