MEPs call for country of origin labelling of all processed meat products as horse meat scandal widens

13 February 2013 by
MEPs call for country of origin labelling of all processed meat products as horse meat scandal widens

Two MEPs are calling for country of origin labelling for all processed meat to increase traceability in an attempt to prevent a repeat of the horse meat scandal.

The news comes as Environment Secretary Owen Paterson has confirmed he will visit Brussels for a horse meat summit with EU counterparts.

Yesterday two meat packing plants, one in West Yorkshire and the other in West Wales, were raided as part of the Food Standards Agency (FSA) investigation into the mislabelling of meat products.

The FSA believed that Peter Boddy Licensed Slaughterhouse in Todmorden, West Yorkshire supplied horse carcasses to Farmbox Meats Ltd, Llandre, Aberystwyth. It said the horse carcasses were destined for meat products, including kebabs and burgers, purporting to be beef.

Environment secretary Owen Paterson said: "This is absolutely shocking. It's totally unacceptable if any business in the UK is defrauding the public by passing off horsemeat as beef. I expect the full force of the law to be brought down on anyone involved in this kind of activity."

Labour MEPs Linda McAvan, spokesperson on food safety for Socialist and Democrat Group, and Glenis Willmott, who leads on food labelling for the Socialist and Democrat Group have welcomed the EU ministers meeting but said more needed to be done to improve labelling of all meat products.

McAvan said: "This scandal raises serious questions about the traceability of food, and the integrity of the meat supply chain.

"We ask farmers to double tag their cattle, so that animals can be traced between farms and abattoirs. Beef is then supposed to be labelled so that it is traceable between abattoirs and manufacturers or retailers. So the systems are in place, but all this effort is wasted if the food manufacturers are not checking their suppliers properly."

During negotiations on the EU Food Labelling Regulation in July 2011, Willmott proposed the mandatory country of origin labelling of all processed meat products, but member states did not support the proposal.

She said: "Back in 2011 the Council of Ministers agreed to the S&D request to include ‘country-of-origin' labelling for fresh lamb, pork, goat and poultry, just as we already had for beef, fish, fruit and vegetables.

"We also pushed the Council to accept that the Commission would produce a report and possible legislation on the origin of meat in processed food within two years. So the Commission's report should be almost ready and we will call for specific legislation to avoid misleading information for consumers. We will ask the Commission at what stage the report and legislative proposals are.

"If companies were forced to specify which country the meat in their lasagnes and other dishes comes from, they would have to keep a much tighter grip on their supply chain - and it would be much less likely that illegal meat of unknown origin creeps in."

View The European scale of the horse meat scandal in a larger map
Burger King dumps Irish supplier over horse DNA scandal >>

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