A Yorkshire MP who chairs Parliament’s Environment, Food and Rural Affairs Select Committee has dubbed the scale of the horsemeat scandal “breathtaking”.
Thirsk and Malton MP Anne McIntosh said: “There is every indication 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 Europe in pursuit of profit.”
Her committee has produced a report calling for immediate action to prevent contaminated meat entering the food chain.
It calls for the Food Standards Agency to be given the legal power to force producers to test products and for companies to divulge the results to the FSA, and also criticises Tesco and other major retail chains who have “let consumers down by selling contaminated products to the British public” and warns the findings of horsemeat contamination so far are likely to be “the tip of the iceberg”.
The Prime Minister has now promised anyone involved in passing off horsemeat as beef will face the full force of the law, and a DNA testing regime on all processed meat across the EU has been agreed.
Environment Secretary Owen Paterson took part in an EU summit which ended with the annoucement of a three-month, EU-wide DNA testing regime to trace horsemeat and to check processed meat on sale for nylbutazone, known as “bute” – the powerful horse drug known to cause cancer in humans.
It is planned to launch the checks in March with 2,500 random tests on processed food for horse DNA and 4,000 for bute. The results will be declared on April 15. The scale of tests for April and May is yet to be decided.
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