Calls to Buy British beef after EU horsemeat scandal
MPs have today called call for the UK to ban all meat imports and ‘Buy British’ as the Food standards agency investigates the horsemeat scandal.
They believe this problem is widespread and could amount to an 'international criminal conspiracy’.
Conservative MP Anne McIntosh, chairman of the environment, food and rural affairs select committee, the department responsible for scrutinising Defra, (it's DEFRA's job to ensure food authenticity) has urged consumers to buy British beef if they want to be sure to avoid contaminated produce.
Speaking on BBC Breakfast she said, ‘I think the clear message is none of our meat, none of our slaughter houses, are implicated and we should be buying as local as possible, we should be buying fresh meat from the butcher, farm shop and supermarket'.
‘We need to restore consumer confidence very quickly, and I say again that there is absolutely no problem with British beef, it’s traceable, it’s farm assured, buy it from the supermarket or from the local butcher.'
The pressure is also growing for a ban of meat from the EU and a certainly a restriction on movement of all EU meat until such time as all the sources of contamination can be identified.
Environment secretary, Owen Paterson, was challenged by Andrew Neil on his Sunday politics show, to implement a ban on meat from other EU countries. He asked the minister, ‘We are consuming horsemeat from Romania where horse infections are endemic and it is being processed by a plant in France recently at the centre of an e-coli outbreak, and you can still say that our health isn’t at risk?’.
Owen, explained that due to EU regulations the government is only allowed to implement a ban on meat from another EU state if there is a threat to public health and his department are awaiting the full results of the testing, ordered by the Food Standards Agency. These results are due next Friday [15/02/2013], where it is expected that the wide scale extent of the problem will be confirmed.
The UK has some of the most vigorous meet safety quality standards in the world, after the BSE (Mad Cow Disease) crisis in the 1990’s, a problem which has long been eradicated in the UK.
The British Meat Processors Association, whose members produce 80% of meat sold in the UK, said: "It's too early to say what the impact will be on our industry. The BMPA is co-operating with the FSA [Food Standards Agency] to establish the facts, and to deal effectively with the issues."
Meanwhile, retailers how who have sought out the lowest cost options at the expense of food control and traceability, are scrambling to limit reputational damage. Some such as Findus, whose beef lasagne was found to contain 100% horse meat, are also looking at legal action. They confirmed they will begin proceedings against at least one unnamed supplier next week.
So what can you do? at Buy British, we want to bring your attention to a hallmark scheme operated in the UK called the “Red Tractor Assurance”, and there is one specifically for beef and lamb producers.
The scheme encompasses food safety, hygiene, animal welfare and environmental protection. The basic welfare needs of sheep and cattle must not be compromised at any stage of their lives, and farmers must ensure that their farming practices do not damage the environment.
Red Tractor Assurance also believes it is important to know where your food comes from and so animals need to be identifiable and traceable back to their farms of origin, and moved in clean vehicles so that the beef and lamb produced is free from contamination and safe to eat.
So if you prefer horses on the racecourse to horses in your freezer then the “Red Tractor Assurance” logo is the one you should be looking out for on your next trip to the supermarket (or better still the local butcher).