THE respected food manufacturer Findus has been forced to take more meat products off supermarket shelves after tests revealed some products, including beef lasagne, contained up to 100 per cent horsemeat.
Many more retailers are withdrawing products and the Food Standards Agency is conducting an enquiry. But what seems clear already is that we need to review how we manage our food supply chain across Europe.
We were, after all, supposed to have learned the lessons after the BSE crisis. Laws were changed. All cows are now double tagged and farmers are obliged to keep meticulous records for each animal which accompany it to the slaughter house. Fresh beef products have to be labelled with their country of origin.
These changes should have protected the public from further scandals. However, wholesalers supplying major food chains seem to be bulk purchasing from various suppliers, without knowing the exact provenance of their meat. Consequently this meat ends up in our lasagnes and other ready meals, unchecked and unlabelled. In 2011, new EU rules were agreed to improve labelling. During the negotiations, Labour MEPs proposed amendments that would extend the rules on labelling the country of origin of fresh meat, to cover products where meat was the main ingredient.
The European Parliament backed our proposal, but the industry objected and convinced ministers to reject our proposals.
Linda McAvan MEP, Labour Member of European Parliament for Yorkshire and the Humber.