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Call for UK labelling clarity in wake of horse meat scandal

By Ed Bedington , 21-Jan-2013
Last updated the 04-Feb-2013 at 10:58 GMT

Call for UK labelling clarity in wake of horse meat scandal

Investigations are continuing into the horse meat scandal that has engulfed the UK and Irish markets following the discovery of horse DNA in frozen burgers.

Both the Food Safety Authority of Ireland (FSAI), which made the initial discovery, and the Food Standards Agency (FSA) in the UK, are continuing to work with industry and the retailers to get to the bottom of the incident, which in one case saw a Tesco value burger discovered to have 29% horse DNA in it.

Two of the processors involved, Silvercrest Foods in Ireland, and Dalepak Hambleton in the UK, both owned by the ABP Food Group have suspended production and, along with the third plant implicated, Liffey Meats, are carrying out their own investigations, with the finger of suspicion currently pointing towards third-party suppliers based on the Continent.

The scandal has prompted calls for clearer labelling on meat products from farmers and others in the meat sector. It has also ignited a debate on sourcing of materials and traceability within the supply chain.

Nick Allen, sector director with red meat levy body Eblex, echoed calls from the National Farmers Union for retailers to re-examine their sourcing and labelling policies. He said: "Co-mingling of meats of different country of origin has been repeatedly raised by consumers as a concern in recent years.

“We would support calls for clear, simple labelling and welcome a debate on the issue. Origin is important to people. They want to know provenance and exactly what is in the product they are buying. While it is accepted that lower-value meat products are unlikely to contain as high a proportion of beef than at the quality end of the market, the contents still need to be clearly labelled on the packet.

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