Horse meat scandal: UK welcomes EC’s labelling plans

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Horse meat scandal: UK welcomes EC’s labelling plans

February 08
14:19 2013

The Environment Secretary Owen Paterson has welcomed the European Commission’s recommendations on labelling the origin of all processed meat and said it should be “accelerated and published as soon as possible”

Owen Paterson

Paterson made his comments after an EU crisis meeting in Brussels, which took place yesterday (13 February).

In a statement on the horse meat scandal, Paterson said: “Because of the urgency with which we have to deal what is clearly an international issue, everyone agreed that the European Commission’s recommendations on labelling the origin of all processed meat should be accelerated and published as soon as possible. This is so that we can have more certainty on where our meat is coming from.”

Investigations in relation to the horse meat scandal are still taking place.

The Times reported this morning (14 February) that the government knew last summer that a sudden ban on cheap British beef and lamb meant it was inevitable that unlawful meat would be imported from Europe.

MPs will demand today (14 February) that the food watchdog FSA be given powers to order supermarkets to carry out safety tests after it failed to identify the use of horsemeat in ready meals for up to a year, despite a warning from a government minister last June.

The influential Commons Environment, Food and Rural Affairs Committee has condemned the government and the Food Standards Agency (FSA) for their handling of the contamination crisis.

‘Effective traceability requirements’

Anne McIntosh, the committee’s chairman, said: “The scale of contamination emerging in the meat supply chain is breath-taking. More revelations will doubtless come to light in the UK and across the EU.

“There is every indication that horsemeat has been intentionally substituted for beef by criminals with access to the food industry. Elements within the food industry have duped consumers in the UK and across Europe in pursuit of profit.

“The Government must ensure effective traceability requirements in respect of the sale and marketing of processed foods originating from EU Member States, including the UK.

“Retailers have responsibilities to ensure UK consumers get food that is labelled accurately and provides sufficient information to make informed decisions about their purchases.”

Catch 22

She also said that restoring customer confidence will take time and money. She said the government has a role to secure the correct balance between affordable food prices and effective regulations that require transparency and quality.

McIntosh added: “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.”

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