British Govt announces probe into horse-meat scandal

David Heath
David Heath

A wide-ranging review of the horse-meat contamination scandal is to be launched by the British Government.

Plans for the review were revealed on Monday by agriculture and food minister David Heath.

Heath said the inquiry would investigate the scandal and its implications for the food chain and regulatory framework.

“This will be wide-ranging, to restore and maintain consumer confidence in the food chain and consider the responsibilities of food businesses, and practice throughout the wider food chain, including audit, testing, food authenticity, food safety and health issues,” he said.

“It will advise us of vulnerabilities within the food chain and its regulatory framework that might be exploited for other fraudulent activity.

The review would also consider any wider implications of the Food Standards Agency’s findings, he said.

“Food fraud is completely unacceptable. Consumers must have confidence in the food they buy and have every right to expect that food is correctly described.

“UK investigations on this issue continue with the City of London Police acting as the co-ordinating police authority.

“It is also right that any weaknesses in our food system and the controls it is subject to are identified and dealt with.”

The horse-meat scandal, which began in Ireland following the discovery by the local food watchdog of horse meat in beef burgers, has spread across much of Europe.

Testing has resulted in tens of millions of tainted ready-made processed beef meals being pulled from supermarket freezers.

The incident has highlighted the complexities of the food chain and its vulnerability to rogue traders.

Heath said, at a European level, the Commission recently drew up a 5-point action plan, including specific measures to fight food fraud, test products, improve horse passports, improve official controls and tighten origin labelling.

Heath said Britain Food Standards Agency will consider a recommendation at a meeting on April 17 that it commissions an external review of its response to the scandal.


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