Horse burger scandal leads to label demand
Farming organisations are demanding clearer labelling on meat products in the wake of the "horsegate" scandal, when horse-meat DNA was discovered in Irish-produced beef burgers.
Long-term consumer confidence in products needed to be safeguarded, said Nick Allen, beef sector director of the trade body, the English Beef & Lamb Executive.
Retailers urgently need to re-examine sourcing and labelling policies, he said, explaining: "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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"We would encourage consumers to look for the assurance marks on packs, like the Red Tractor logo or the Quality Standard Mark for beef or lamb, which give a level of re-assurance on where a product is from and that it has been produced to clearly defined standards."
Melanie Squires, South West regional director of the National Farmers' Union, said farmers were rightly angry that the integrity of stringent UK-farmed products was being compromised by using cheaper imported alternatives which did not meet our own robust traceability systems. "We need to put an end to co-mingled products in stores, which mix UK meat with imported meat," she said.
And Simon Wood, of Buckfastleigh-based Well Hung Meat, believed problems arose when food was produced on a huge scale. "No one knows where the horse meat has come from, how it entered the food supply chain or how prevalent the problem has been."
The burgers discovered with horse-meat DNA were in Tesco and Iceland stores.