Big business compromising security of food chain, says Green MSP

By staff writers
9 Feb 2013

The latest horsemeat incidents show the influence of big business is compromising the security of our food chain, a Scottish MSP has claimed.

Irish food inspectors announced they had found horsemeat in some burgers stocked by a number of UK supermarket chains, including Tesco, Iceland and Lidl.

Comments about the wider situation in the industry came from Alison Johnstone, Member of the Scottish Parliament for Lothian and food spokesperson for the Scottish Greens.

Food retailers have been told to carry out tests on all processed beef products after some were found to contain 100 per cent horsemeat.

Manufacturers have also been told to test for traces of a veterinary drug which may pose a risk to human health.

Ms Johnstone said: "These scandals highlight the fact that we’re no longer in control of the food we buy and eat. Three quarters of our food shopping is done in the big four supermarkets and they in turn are squeezing producers to give them products as cheaply as possible."

She continued: "The ready meals market is booming, but unless the manufacturers of these nutritionally haphazard products start being clearer about what's in them I can see shoppers avoiding them to be on the safe side."

"It's high time supermarkets and government did more to support local producers and independent retailers so consumers have fresher options and are less reliant on processed foods," Ms Johnstone said.

Scotland's food standards minister, Richard Lochhead says that no manufacturers in Scotland are currently affected by the scandal, but acknowledges “alarm” among some consumers.

He commented: “I am urging the European Commission and the UK government, who have responsibility in this area, to get to the root of this matter immediately."

Retailers have now agreed to carry out "more and tougher testing" of beef products in the wake of widespread horsemeat contamination by Friday 15 February, the UK Environment Secretary reported this weekend.

Test results will then be published every three months by the Food Standards Agency, Owen Patterson claimed.

[Ekk/3]

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