More testing of food safety and composition across industry needed

14 February 2013

Current arrangements for testing and control across the European food industry have failed UK consumers

The Food Standards Agency (FSA) needs clear powers and responsibilities so that it can respond more effectively to any future food adulteration scandal, concludes the cross-party Environment, Food and Rural Affairs Committee.

Launching the report of a short inquiry into contamination of beef products published today, Committee Chair Anne McIntosh MP 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.

"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.

"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.”

The Committee recommends:

  • The FSA be given the statutory powers to require producers to undertake testing, taking into account the level of risk;
  • All testing results must be reported to the FSA whether they are mandated by the FSA or carried out independently;
  • A broader range of testing to provide greater assurance to consumers.

The Committee warns the Government that it should not, at this time, propose to reduce the labelling standards applied to British food.

The Committee intends to take further evidence on these issues.

Further information

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