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How to prevent another horsemeat scandal

News Section Icon Published 11/10/2013

It has recently been reported that a 2010 re-organisation blurred the areas of responsibilities between the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) and the Food Standards Agency.

In a report by the National Audit Office examining the aftermath of the 'horsemeat scandal', it has been said that the public's expectations about the authenticity of food were not being met. Even more worrying are the questions mounting about whether we have the capacity to respond to future incidents.

Philip Lymbery, Compassion's CEO says:"We need a new food system with labels including as much information as possible: transparent food labelling that includes country of origin and method of production would tell consumers how an animal was raised. Surely, this would be a good start to regaining consumer confidence."

Compassion believes that we all need to hear the truth, so that we can exercise our right to choose: to choose higher welfare products. 'Method of production' labelling would indicate what farming system was used, for example, free-range, barn or intensive.

More transparency leads to greater consumer confidence. It could also mean a big increase in the number of farm animals reared in higher welfare systems.

To rebuild consumer trust in food, we need honesty and clarity about where it actually comes from. Instead, Defra is blocking this clear labelling of meat and dairy products and is actively pushing the European Commission to keep consumers in the dark.

David Heath, the former Minister of Agriculture stated that because animals can be moved, method of production is too difficult to define.

In actual fact, broiler chickens stay in the same system throughout their lives, and many pigs stay in the same farm system too.

We can only hope with the recent cabinet reshuffle that Dan Rogerson, who has replaced David Heath, will broaden his understanding of labelling food and take action where David Heath did not.

Find out more about our campaign for full and honest food labelling >>


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