Horsemeat scandal: Government’s response ‘flat-footed’

By Gerald Heneghan

The government’s response to the ongoing horsemeat scandal has been branded “flat-footed” by MPs.

A report released today (February 14th) by the Commons Environment, Food and Rural Affairs Committee has called for enhanced testing of meat products to ensure no threat to human health is present.

Committee chair Anne McIntosh MP branded the scale of contamination as “breath-taking” and claimed the British public had been “duped” by elements within the food industry.

“Restoring customer confidence will take time and money. The Government has a role to secure the correct balance between affordable food prices and effective regulations that require transparency and quality,” she said.

The Committee also suggested that criminals willing to pass off horsemeat as beef would be unlikely to have sufficient hygiene standards in place.

Similarly, the body noted that the scandal has raised broader questions over transparency, food production and supply chain pressures.

Ms McIntosh urged the government to implement “effective traceability requirements” in regard to the sale and marketing of processed foods imported from EU member states.

“The consumer cannot be left to face a catch 22 where they can either pay for food that complies with the highest standards of traceability, labelling and testing or accept that they cannot trust the provenance and composition of the foods they eat,” she added.

Earlier in the week, the Food Standards Agency began raids on plants involved in the alleged supply of products contaminated by horsemeat – with environment secretary Owen Paterson threatening to bring down the “full force of the law” on any parties involved in the scandal.

 

Image used courtesy of Philip Lange / Shutterstock.com.

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