Wales

Horsemeat: Europe-wide control call by Labour's Irranca-Davies

  • 15 February 2013
  • From the section Wales
Farmbox Meats Ltd, of Llandre near Aberystwyth
Image caption Farmbox Meats near Aberystwyth was one of two premises raided on Tuesday

Europe-wide controls on food products have been urged by a Welsh Labour MP as the horsemeat scandal continues.

Huw Irranca-Davies, the shadow minister for food and farming, says food needs to be completely traceable across all countries.

The Ogmore MP said consumers need to be sure of what they eat.

His comments came as the Farmers' Union of Wales (FUW) said it was appalled horsemeat was mislabelled as beef.

Mr Irranca-Davies said he was disappointed at the "slow response" of the government to the horsemeat scandal and he wanted to see confidence put back into the processed food chain.

He also said consumers needed to know what they are buying, that it is correctly labelled and safe.

"This is a need for an Europe-wide approach as well as products are traced from France, Romania, Italy, Spain and then end up in a product on a British supermarket shelf.

"Surely that's a case for not only having effective regulation, but also making sure agencies are enforcing it and that does not seem to be happening," he added.

UK Environment Secretary Owen Paterson has stressed that "nothing seen so far presented a health risk" and that he would have "no hesitation at all" about eating recalled products. The government has advised people to carry on with their normal shopping habits unless told otherwise.

Three men have been arrested on suspicion of Fraud Act offences.

Two, aged 64 and 42, were arrested at Farmbox Meats Ltd, of Llandre near Aberystwyth. One is believed to be the owner, Dafydd Raw-Rees.

A 63-year-old was arrested at the Peter Boddy Licensed Slaughterhouse in West Yorkshire. Both firms deny wrongdoing.

Test results for horse meat in British processed meals are due later on Friday as detectives continue to question the three arrested men.

The Food Standards Agency (FSA) will report after asking retailers and suppliers for "meaningful results" from tests to detect the presence of horse meat in processed meals labelled as beef.

The FSA suspended operations at the meat firm near Aberystwyth and the slaughterhouse in West Yorkshire after raids at the premises on Tuesday.

It also seized meat found on the premises as well as paperwork, including customer lists from the two companies.

Anglesey beef and sheep farmer Dafydd Roberts, of the FUW, said the activities were "out of the control of, and unrelated to, Welsh farmers".

Recalling products

"Producers of lamb, beef and other Welsh products have to abide by strict criteria and rigorous inspection regimes to ensure animal traceability," he said.

"It now appears that a parallel processed food supply chain has been operating fraudulently.

"We have already called for the FSA to refocus its efforts to tackle what appears to be mis-labelling and fraud by middle men in a complex and convoluted processed food supply chain and we welcome the FSA's actions and investigations regarding this."

Mr Roberts, chair of the FUW's livestock, wool and marts committee, added: "Matters are developing on a daily basis but once we know all the facts about these horrendous practices governments and the authorities must react robustly and in a way which ensures this can never happen again."

David Lloyd, director of the Food Industry Centre at Cardiff Metropolitan University, told BBC Radio Wales that in his experience supermarkets have been the "main driver of food safety in the last 20-30 years".

He said later it may be seen that the problem lies in the "early phases of the food chain and what we see in the later stages is intense controls".

A Dyfed-Powys Police spokesman said the three people arrested were being detained at Aberystwyth Police Station and would be interviewed by its officers and FSA staff.

The Peter Boddy Licensed Slaughterhouse in West Yorkshire is reported to have supplied horse carcasses to the Aberystwyth plant, which were then allegedly sold on as beef for kebabs and burgers.

Tests by Irish authorities last month found horsemeat in beefburgers made by firms in the Irish Republic and the UK and sold in supermarket chains including Tesco and Aldi.

The Food Standards Agency has said that 29 tests on food products found more than 1% horsemeat.

Of 2,501 tests conducted, 2,472 have come back negative, the FSA says.

Tests by pubs owner Whitbread and school supplier Compass Group found horse DNA in some products, but other retailers say their tests are clear.

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