COMMONS

Horsemeat: One year on

13 January 2014

Lessons remain to be learned about how horsemeat came to contaminate many British foodstuffs a year ago, says EFRA Committee Chair Miss Anne McIntosh.

Tuesday 14 January is the anniversary of the first UK contamination coming to light. Extensive testing in the subsequent weeks identified many processed meat products containing traces of horsemeat, and Europe-wide investigations continue. No prosecutions have yet occurred.

"Five reports and twelve months later, this is a good time to take stock of the situation,” said Miss McIntosh. The EFRA Committee last week heard from Professor Chris Elliott, author of the latest review into the integrity of food supply, that action is still required to prevent future contamination. 
"Retailers still need to work on smaller supply chains,” added Miss McIntosh.

By buying local we can more likely trace all sources of our food. Professor Elliott highlighted in particular the transportation of meat as being of highest risk and the storage of meat slabs. There is also a need for more food analysts to reduce the risk.

In its report of July 2013 the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs Select Committee called for those responsible for the horsemeat scandal to be identified and prosecuted in order to restore consumer confidence in the UK’s frozen meat sector.

The Committee felt that the FSA should become a more efficient and effective regulator and be seen to be independent of industry. The FSA must have the power to be able to compel industry to carry out tests when needed. It must also be more innovative in its testing regime and vigilant in ensuring every local authority carries out regular food sampling."

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