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Horse meat: Government must act now

News Section Icon Published 13/02/2013

The Food Standards Agency has pledged a full investigation into a slaughterhouse in West Yorkshire and meat processing plant in West Wales after they were linked to the horse meat scandal.

Although a positive move, it does not address the fact that unlabelled horse meat in beef products is a symptom of a broken food system.

The lack of transparency and traceability in the food chain is deeply unsettling for consumers. Suppliers were apparently unaware of what they were buying, which leaves consumers with even less chance of knowing what is in their food.

Transparency and traceability is greatly hampered by this labyrinthine route to market for meat. It is confusing. And it does not need to be this way.

Compassion is calling on the Government to do the following things as a matter of urgency to restore confidence in our supply chain:

  • Introduce method of production labelling. Consumers should not only know where their meat came from but also how the animal that provided it was reared. The UK should take the lead by introducing compulsory method of production labelling on all meat and dairy products.
  • Reduce the complexity of the food chain so that meat passes through fewer stages between slaughter and sale, liaising with food businesses, the European Commission and other EU Member States to agree measures.
  • Insist on greater transparency in the food chain, liaising with the European Commission and other EU Member States to quickly strengthen EU legislation in this area. Each actor in the food chain should know not just who they bought the meat from but the identity of all the suppliers, starting from the abattoir.

In the coming days we will begin to see the full extent of the level of horse meat in our food chain. The furore surrounding horse meat will die down eventually but unless we fix our broken food system, another scandal is surely just around the corner.

Our Labelling Matters campaign is calling for honest method of production labelling on all products of animal origin.

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