Horsemeat

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March 14 Two Prosecutions "The owner and the manager of a Yorkshire abattoir that slaughtered horses have become the first men to be charged in relation to last year’s horsemeat scandal."

December '13 Elliot Interim report "suggests a systems-based approach to tackling food fraud" He tells a sorry tale of how public functions that protect our food have been cut and so fail us. He asks us what do we expect for something so cheap. On p 22 of the Elliott Review is the answer. A real beef burger should cost around 85p, he says. To get it for 30p, offal, mechanically separated meat, and other ingredients are likely to be in there. (See below for how much more we would pay).  Lang's response says it was "a damning indictment of the state of our food" and "about good old fashioned adulteration" and that "We should not be surprised by this. Meat is a mucky business".

Glencore shrugged off slump in the ready meals market prompted by the horsemeat scandal to increase sales and profit. Patrick Coveney, chief executive, estimated that consumers’ reluctance to eat chilled ready meals, a sector of the market that had been growing strongly, cost Greencore about £15m of turnover.


Step by step....

HORSE MEAT SAGA
‘Lasagna Lasagna, My Kingdom for another Lasagna’, with no added Shergar

Distaste for horsemeat is widely shared across the English-speaking world, although the U.S. Congress in 2011 overturned a five-year-old effective ban on slaughtering horses for food. Why Brits so squeemish A sign in a Belgian butcher's which was next door to a betting shop says "Get your revenge here".

The scare gets broader and broader. Prediction: Horse will be in almost all processed meat. (This turned out to be untrue! Of 2,500 meat products judged to be at highest risk less than 0.1 were..). Nevertheless….

It is obvious the thousands of nags – encouraged by CAP funding, must be going somewhere. They are now where once were cows. Why are there so many horses? EU funding, made worse by DEFRA; EU SFP pays farmers for looking after their land (nearly 100 pounds /acre) – and if they do it environmentally they get another 10%. So no money for sheep or cows, where markets are decidedly up and down. So small land owners go for horses instead. And if you have 0.5 hectare – about an acre – and half a football pitch, you can claim for subsidies. DEFRA expected 10, 000 extra claimants, but it is nearer 100,000 claiming for their small plots. And they seem all to grow horses. All round here, where once there were cows there are now nags. Not proper horses, but nags. Last horse meat scandal 2003

15 January, the FSA was notified by the Food Safety Authority of Ireland of the results of its survey of processed beef products on the Irish market. The Irish study identified trace amounts of horse and pig DNA in the majority of the sample, but identified one product, a Tesco burger, where there was evidence of flagrant adulteration with horsemeat. Anglo Beef Processors were the source.

The investigations in Ireland are ongoing. So when the news broke from Ireland – another place with an XS of horses, it was at first seen as just about a few beef/horseburgers. Then tests started in this country, and DNA tests are a lot easier to do now, when Tesco finds that ‘every little bit (of horse) helps’.

16 January, in order to investigate the implications for the UK market, the FSA announced a four-point plan. That included telling implicated food businesses to test their processed beef products and the launch of a full scientific study of processed beef products on the UK market.

Larry Goodman ‘Dirty Larry’ is man behind ABP, at the centre of the scandal. Beef baron Larry Goodman has been through the mincer. He has been Ireland biggest beef processor, and one of Europes’s biggest for many years. Goodman expanded by slaughtering large volumes of cattle which were then sold into international markets outside Europe, primarily the Middle East and Russia, with the aid of EU export refunds. Irish ministers joined in the effort to open up new markets, travelling to countries such as Libya on behalf of the processors. In the summer of 1990, however, Goodman’s empire found itself hugely overstretched following the Iraqi invasion of Kuwait. The government bailed him out.

A World In Action TV show in 1991 investigated  Europe’s “Mr Meat”. It made allegations of abuse of the subsidy system, use of political influence and tax abuse. It was alleged that weights were falsified and poor quality meat added at the plant in Waterford operated by ABP. It was also claimed ABP had failed to comply with the contractual requirements of Middle Eastern customers with regard to the slaughter of beef Can’t Keep a Goodman down. A colleague of mine who worked on the WiA programme said that when he heard the horse meat news, he knew ABP would be in the middle of it. The programme led to the instigation of the Beef Tribunal, chaired by the president of the High Court. Some years later it concluded that widespread tax evasion was practiced in all plants investigated with the knowledge of management in the Goodman group. But: “While the tribunal has established many irregularities and mal-practices... it has not established that they were carried out in all plants with the knowledge of Larry Goodman,  Fall & rise of Goodman’s empire

18 January Anglo Beef Processors suspend all production at Silvercrest Grocer

 

31 January, the Prison Service of England and Wales notified the Food Standards Agency that traces of pork DNA had been found in a selection of meat pies labelled as halal. 

Feb 4 Minister meeting with the British Retail Consortium, the Food and Drink Federation, the British Meat Processors Association, the Federation of Wholesale Distributors, the Institute of Grocery Distribution and individual retailers, made it clear that he expected to see from them the following: meaningful results from testing by the end of this week; more testing of products for horse along the supply chain and that the industry co-operates fully with the FSA on that; publication of industry test results every three months through the FSA; and that they let the FSA know as soon as they become aware of a potential problem in their products.

6 February, Findus informed the Food Standards Agency that it had confirmation of horsemeat in frozen beef lasagne products. The lasagne were produced in Luxembourg by a French company, Comigel, with the meat supplied by another French company, Spanghero. 

So lets blame the Comigel factory. A variation on one bad apple. One bad leg.. It was those dastardly froggies – they will eat anything, hence our name for them And they started by taking the mick out of us for being squemish about  horse.

The Findus Lasagna ‘takes the biscuit’ – not just ‘traces’ but 100% hose. And in the same week that Richard 3’s bones identified in Leicester.


8 February, Aldi withdrew two beef products after its tests found that they contained horsemeat. The products were supplied by Comigel, the same company that supplied Findus. Asda and Tesco also withdrew products from the same suppliers on a precautionary basis.

Sun Feb 10 Comigel says ‘we were fooled’. They were supplied by Spanghero and traced back to Rumania. Always somebody else’s fault. And the further away the better – especially in ‘Eastern’ Europe. Reason Romania is favorite to blame is because they have a lot of nags to get rid of, since their new road rules exclude their presence  But so far neither country has found any problems with its beef abattoirs’.

 

 

Feb 10 Is an issue with Bute, but possibly overdone – some horses are regularly given this stuff, but likelihood of damage remote. 9 samples found bute last year. What is more likely to cause damage is the processing of this (and other ) meat. ..certainly more salts, but also other agents (?) and of course fat – if you are worried about fat that is. (Prof Elliot Belfast)

Paterson blames everybody but themselves.. Labour’s system  - the FSA Europe Regs Romania..and international fraud of course. Everybody starting talking about ‘the mafia’.

And the various bits of government start blaming each other. Defra is compromised - it wants to protect the image of British farming/food industry - yet it has a role to provide consumers with honest product labelling/food authenticity.  No-one seems to remember that's why the FSA was set up in the first place because of this conflict of interest over BSE, as well as to carry the rap for future Ministers should anything go wrong again, which is what is happening now. What would be interesting to know is where the budget that the FSA used to have for its food authenticity programme has gone.  

Food Authenticity was transfered to Defra in 2010: see weblink here: http://www.defra.gov.uk/food-farm/food/standards/authenticity/ but there don't seem to have surveys reporting since 2008 - at least not reported there.  Does that mean no food authenticity work is being undertaken - has that budget been cut?  (Food Programme today asked about budget cuts and had an interview with Mark Woolf - former head of food authenticity at the FSA who spoke about pressures from retailers to reduce the food authenticity research programme because they didn't like being named and shamed.). But nobdy saying ‘what do you expect with globalised free markets?’ It is what has gone on since the bosses watered the workers beer (in song) others put alum in the flour (hence the Rochdale Cooperative), lard in the butter and fructose syrup in the honey – only now on a global scale. The costs of inspection globally are enormous – and get in the way of a good ‘free market’.

But it is not just a few Eastern Europeans..

Feb 11 Around the world.. .  In 2011, 27million kg of EU's horsemeat was imported from third countries, primarily from Canada, Mexico, Brazil, Argentina and Uruguay. This includes horsemeat orginating in the US. Each year, more than 100,000 horses are shipped across the US border to Canada or Mexico for slaughter at abattoirs that supply the European market.See: http://www.humanesociety.org/assets/pdfs/farm/report_food_safety_horse_slaughter.pdf:  

House of Commons debate ‘The Ulster Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals has clear evidence of illegal trade in unfit horse from Ireland to the UK for meat, with horses being re-passported to meet demand for horsemeat in mainland Europe. It says that there are currently 70,000 horses unaccounted for in Northern Ireland. Unwanted horses are being sold for €10 and sold on for meat for €500—a lucrative trade. It is convenient to blame the Poles and Romanians. Creagh.

Romanian PM goes public saying ‘Not us gov’

 

In parliament debate Paterson says ‘This issue is a European competence’

 Ex-head of Northern Foods, Lord Haskins, says fraud is endemic in the food system. ‘Thousands of “shadowy figures” in the food industry must have known that horse meat was being used in British products for years, Lord Haskins has claimed.

Feb 12 In Britain….Two places being investigated . Todmorden who were one of 5 abattoirs licensed to kill horses…classic 'nagland'.

Peter Boddy slaughterhouse is thought to have supplied horse carcasses to the Aberystwyth firm Farmbox Meats, which were then allegedly sold on as beef for kebabs and burgers    More

The place of this abattoir makes sense – right in the heart of nagland, where every paddock and waste bit of ground round have horses hobbling around.  

Most of us didn’t realize there was a Todmorden ‘mafia’ – unless you mean the Incredible Edibles famed for their fruit and veg. Both places deny any wrong doings, while DEFRA says it is either negligence or criminality. Paterson on his way to meeting of counterparts in Europe said it was ‘absolutely shocking’. It was as it wrecked his view that everybody else was responsible.

Blytheman says trouble is industry has been left to test itself. And guess what? They don’t.

List of withdrawn products

And now it is spreading to other foods. Waitrose announced it is clearing the shelves of its Essential British Frozen Beef Meatballs after pork was detected in tests on two batches Glasgow firm named as the source of Waitrose own-brand Essential frozen beef meatballs which may contain pork. ABP Foods-owned Freshlink factory (BBC Report)

Is it time to steer clear of ‘processed foods, despite no health effects of horse.

Wed 13.

They will ‘Start submitting ‘highest risk’ in beef and pork.’ Unrealistically to get all tests by then – just not enough testers. When will we know all results? Weeks? Months? FSA person could not say .So it could be months? Some will be in Friday. FSA ‘Whole food chain needs looking at’ and they will send results in for FSA. Dr Mark Wolf says testing on beef was stopped. ‘Still actively sample lots of products – 90,000 for safety. But you don’t go out to test where the contamination goes on – how often can abattoirs expect FSA person – every day/regularly (based on risk). Trace it back to desinuated meat banned by EU, so going elsewhere to go get ‘dodgy meat’...wherever in EU – Rumania/Poland. FSA” Lots been said about these countries – but no evidence they have done anything wrong.’ FSA on Today ‘Horse replacement for desinuated meat does not really add up.’ Rumanian abattoirs not to blame  Wolf Desinuation

Food chain too long, ability to defraud too great...need fundamental look at processed food. Can come through several countries, so difficult to trace. People beginning to realize how free markets are getting. And just when wrote that hear Ann McIntosh Tory Chair of  EFRA Select Committee, saying  (BBC Radio 2 pm Feb 13) ‘Moving horse meat around is not what free markets are all about’. Really???

FSA will be ‘relentless’. Cameron wants ‘full intervention of the law’.

Llandre - Farmbox meats – owner denies any wrong-doing….says yes horse from Ireland going to continent, but none going into food. Dafyd Raw-Rees on video. Steve Wern Welsh FSA director saying there is evidence. Todmorden people in local market on local TV say ‘think I’ll start buying from butchers where I know the meat has come from.

Germany latest country affected by the scandal...pulls lasagna off shelves.

Wholesaler Makro is the latest firm to announce that a "trace of horse" has been found in a brand of beef burgers. The firm had removed all frozen beef burgers from sale in January in order to test them. "One brand Unger beef burgers 48/4oz supplied by Silvercrest Foods did contain a trace of horse. We no longer sell the Unger product," (BBC Report) 

Paterson – says should be uniform DNA testing across EU. EU aggress to random DNA testing for horse in meat Not a rogue conscription, but endemic.  BBC Radio 4 news..‘Everybody shifting the blame’ Rumania blaming.. Paterson ‘We’ve all been too slow, but not slow enough to point finger of blame.

Tim Lang, professor of food policy at City University, London, said the Food Standards Agency needed to be strengthened. He told the BBC's Newsnight: "It's not been doing its job. We need more inspectors, they've been slashed and cut. We can't have the industry policing itself, that's what's gone wrong. The big food companies didn't actually have the control they said they had."

Feb 14 EFFRA Select Committee say public been cynically and systematically duped" for profit . Government's "flat-footed" handling of the horsemeat scandal, saying its ability to respond had been weakened by cuts to the Food Standards Agency (FSA). Anne McIntosh said scale of contamination breathtaking..(Sky) "We recommend that the Government and FSA undertake a broader spectrum of testing for products found to have the highest levels of contamination.

EFRA committee also critical of the government's current plans to reduce food labelling standards. Ministers are seeking UK exemption from proposed new EU rules which would require the declaration of the amount of meat in loose fresh meat products. The Department for the Environment Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) also wants to allow minced meat sold in the UK to have a higher fat and collagen content than permitted in other EU states

YouGov poll for Sky News reveals that one in five people have changed the way they shop as a result of the widening meat contamination problem. A third of the nearly 2,000 people surveyed said they had stopped buying cheap ranges and now favour more expensive processed meat. As for who they blamed most, nearly half - 49% - said meat processors were most at fault, while one in five said food manufacturers carried responsibility. But supermarkets seem to be largely off the hook, with only 10% of people saying they are to blame and even fewer pointing the finger at the Food Standards Agency (FSA) or the Government.

Consumers switching 3 people arrested on suspected fraud – 2 @ Aber other Tod.

Other foods coming in for inspection? reminded of fish (Daily Mail/HFW).

The EC has approved use of monogastics (ie chicken and pork) in fish feed (against wishes of FSA).   The basis of this is that there is a shortage of (cheap) protein - perhaps fish will be eating horse shortly as they are also monogastrics.

Friday Feb 15   ‘From Nags to Riches’

The story so far… .there are tens of thousands of horses surplus to requirement in EU, so where can they go? Into the food chain of course. This story – as the journalists say, ‘has legs’….there are so many angles, hard to categorise just yet..

Today is the day with lots of testing results due in. BRC said the tests had put  lot of demands on them. FSA said that "more than a hundred" results had come in

Asda has withdrawn its fresh beef bolognese sauce from stores across the country after tests for horse DNA came back positive It is the first time since the horsemeat scandal unfolded that horse DNA has been found in fresh produce. Asda has removed the Chosen By You 350g Beef Bolognese Sauce from stores across the country along with beef broth soup, meat feast pasta sauces and chili con carne soup, all from Greencore, as a precaution. The official investigation widened to include a Cheshire-based company that supplied meat to ABP, the Irish beef processing firm at the heart of the allegations.

11 of the UK's biggest food suppliers, including Tesco, Asda, Sainsbury's, the Co-operative, the Compass group and Brakes, issued a public letter in which they stated they shared food shoppers' "anger and outrage", although the letter stopped short of an apology.

Bute: Creagh complaining “all horses were being tested for bute but were still being released for human consumption? In the middle of a horsemeat adulteration scandal, that is catastrophic complacency.". Dame Sally Davies, the UK's chief medical officer, said there was very little health risk. "The trace levels detected are very unlikely to have harmed any human, child or foetus." She suggested a person would have to eat more than 500 horsemeat burgers to get a harmful dose.Yet  In July 2012 the Veterinary Residues Committee (VRC), which advises the government, warned that it had "repeatedly expressed concern" about bute entering the food chain because it had the "potential for serious adverse effects in consumers". The horse passport system meant to prevent bute contamination in the 9,000 horses slaughtered for meat in the UK each year was not working, a member of the VRC said.

I think the Bute thing is a red-herring (is there a similar meat metaphor?). Knowing my hazards, and risk assessment, I say there is ‘no risk’ (I know we aren’t supposed to say ‘no’ risk.) Any risk is miniscule – say compared with extra salt in processing. And any contamination would come from proper looked after race horses ( I think they have found only 6 – AND I bet they are racehorses), not nags.

The FSA tested all 206 horses slaughtered in the UK for food (this statement I found curious!) between 30 January and 7 February for bute, at a cost of £415,000, and found eight positive results. In two cases the meat did not leave the slaughterhouse but six horses were sent to France.

We are talking nags. Loads of them – must be all over Europe as the CAP funding encourages horses to replace cows, not just on the hills round here. And if you can turn £10 carcass into £500 of good meat...that is about 50p/pound.

And there in France: The French authorities found that Spanghero had profited to the tune of more than €500,000 (£430,000) over six months by marketing the cheap horsemeat as much more expensive beef. Evidence also mounted of extensive and long-term collaboration between Spanghero and the Dutch trader, Jan Fasen, whose Cyprus-based company, Draap Trading Ltd, brokered the deal between two Romanian abattoirs and the French company, which last night denied acting improperly. Fasen was convicted last year for massive scam selling Mexican (blame them now!) horsemeat as 100% Dutch or German ‘halal beef’ and for faking the paperwork. Talk about nags to riches.

Fasen vehemently denied any deception. "There has been a terrible crime," he said. "The strange thing is I have nothing to do with it. You have to go to France to see who made the mistakes. It's got a bit hot. But what's happening is just too stupid for words." Fasen said the invoice was authentic. The French firm did not deny the authenticity of the invoice but said it was not aware of the code signifying horsemeat. (This is the trouble with the ‘tick box’ mentality – provided the box is tacked, all is OK. Talk about a reductionist approach..) While the French investigation blaming the French company answered some of the main questions in the immediate scandals, all the evidence indicated a much bigger and deeper abuse of consumer rights across Europe. More

WHAT I am finding curious – there is a ‘nagging’ question...everybody who has been ‘blamed’ has/is saying confidently ‘Not me gov, done nuffin wrong’. Rumanian abattoirs, Fasen, Tod/Aber arrests. Why is that? Are they actually innocent but somebody the authorities can blame –  individuals always gets clobbered in this situation, while the system carries on smiling.

The French said the scandal had spread to 13 countries and 28 companies, involving a total of 750 tonnes of horsemeat. All the signs were that what started as a frozen lasagne scandal is escalating into a pan-European consumer and possibly health debacle.

 





What prompted the Irish to test first?

Brilliant

FSA announce results ‘noting new’

Here are the key points from the Food Standards Agency’s briefing:

• A total of 29 of the 2,501 items tested by the industry, which reported to the FSA, tested positive for horsemeat.

• This includes seven products, all of which the public was already aware of. The products linked to the positive results were: Aldi's special frozen beef lasagne and special frozen spaghetti bolognese, the Co-op's frozen quarter pounder burgers, Findus beef lasagne, Rangeland's catering burger products, and Tesco value frozen burgers and value spaghetti bolognese.

 But a positive result only covers products that tested more than 1% positive for horse.

• The tests only covered about a quarter of all meat products eaten by consumers.

• There are at least 962 more tests still to be carried out.

• No products grossly contaminated with horse tested positive for the drug phenylbutazone - or "bute".

• Tesco, Sainsbury's, Morrisons, Iceland, M&S and Co-op all reported that they were in the clear.

• But Whitbread admitted today that its meat lasagnes and beefburgers were affected. The tests reported today by the FSA did not include Whitbread’s positive results.

 It is likely to be "impossible" to ever know the full extent of horsemeat mis-labelling, the FSA’s director in Wales Steve Wearne said.

Getting closer to home...

Lancashire Authority say that their own testing shows horse  in ‘cottage pies’ served to nearly 50 schools..So the nags are now in the public sector. And Lancashire thought it had been sourced

Is Assurance Scheme – Red Tractor – implicated in the scheme of things? Or will ‘Assured’ means what it says? I bet they are worried. But if they are clear that will give them/retailers a boost.

French restaurant owner offer 100% horse burger to popular acclaim. This is the way to deal with the nagging problem of overproduction of horses!

Guardian Horse Timeline

Saturday

Kath Dalmeiny said ‘the effect of supermarket wars on the supply chain has to be better policed ‘When you apply special offers to meat you have to put pressure on suppliers to cut their costs in order to keep the contract. Tha chain is going to break at some point.’

 National Farmers Union took out newspaper advertisements urging shoppers to “Buy British”, pointing out that UK farms are “leading the way in high standards”.

Secret network of firms t emerged that key intermediaries involved in the trade appeared to be using a similar secretive network of companies to the convicted arms trafficker Viktor Bout.

Technicians at Spanghero

 

Sunday

Although blame for the contamination lies with suppliers rather than retailers, one long-serving senior supermarket executive described the situation as “pandemonium”. “I was around for foot-and-mouth and BSE and this feels like it’s on that scale,”

Waitrose Mark Price says have to rething ‘cheap’. Perhaps should pay more – (at Waitrose presumably) "If something good comes of the current scandal I hope it is the opening up of a debate around the true economics of food and a determination on the part of everybody in the food industry to apply renewed rigour to their processes and testing regimes to ensure that customers can relax and enjoy the food they buy,"

Iceland say ‘Don’t blame us –  Mr Walker claimed horsemeat was not being passed off as beef in British supermarkets and that there had been only “microscopic” amounts of contamination. blame the local authorities, schools and hopspitals who always want cheapest deal. So blame game moved to another level ‘The real culprits are the catering industry, these dodgy cutting houses and backstreet manufacturers have been supplying products to the catering industry and a lot of that is being bought by local authorities for schools and hospitals, that’s where the problem really lies, not with supermarkets.” More

ComRes Survey found a third of adults in Britain have stopped eating ready-meals as a result of the horsemeat scandal, while seven percent have stopped eating meat altogether. found a 53 percent to 33 percent majority in favour of banning the import of all meat products "until we can be sure of their origin". Some 44 percent agreed that the government had responded well to the crisis, while 30 percent disagreed.

Labour leader Ed Miliband said the governing coalition had been too slow to grasp the situation.

"The government needed to do three things," he told Sky News television.

"Offer clear guidance, including to schools and hospitals, about what they should be doing;

"Get the testing under way as quickly as possible and make sure the official testing is done, not as it is still planned to do by April, but much quicker;

"And thirdly, get the police involved and make sure there is a proper police investigation."

Peter Kenyon on Radio 4 said ‘I wish people would talk more about ‘value’ rather than ‘cheapness’. He has got a nerve bearing in mind what he says about AWB.

Commentators have often dismissed the long-running debate about foods’ provenance as a class issue: while the middle classes worry about what’s on their plate, working class people do not. This theory has been blown out of the water by the horse meat scandal.

People have seen how long th food chain is – and realize they are being conned – but while it looks cheap it must be paying for loads of handouts along the line.

Is a tendency to make it a safety issue. When we know it is one of trust – and the retailers have emphasized that in their relation with consumers. Arguably, far more important for supermarkets than the relatively small number of instances of horse meat in food products is how they regain shoppers’ trust.

No wonder they are universally pissed off – whether you are a veggie, or road kill. It is fraud.

Fraud that was waiting to happen If anybody can find warnings, then it will take on another level. regaining trust will prove hard, particularly as more revelations of contaminated food could come in the weeks ahead. And re-building opaque global supply chains, parts of which have been built on the dangerous pillars of low costs and high volumes, will take time. The horse meat crisis has been compared to the US sub-prime mortgage crisis, when bundles of good loans were mixed with bundles of bad loans and sold on to investors.

Mr Black, from Shore Capital. “The reality is that it is a global food industry and that reflects the fact that consumers want to buy cheap food.”                                                                                                    

Time to appraise..    

 Will Hutton This is a crisis not only for environment secretary, Owen Paterson, but for the whole Conservative party

The collapse of a belief system paralyses and terrifies in equal measure. Certainties are exploded. A reliable compass for action suddenly becomes inoperable. Everything you once thought solid vaporises.

Owen Paterson, secretary of state for the environment, food and rural affairs, is living through such a nightmare and is utterly lost. All his once confident beliefs are being shredded. As the horsemeat saga unfolds, it becomes more obvious by the day that those Thatcherite verities – that the market is unalloyed magic, that business must always be unshackled from "wealth-destroying" regulation, that the state must be shrunk, that the EU is a needless collectivist project from which Britain must urgently declare independence – are wrong.

Indeed, to save his career and his party's sinking reputation, he has to reverse his position on every one. The only question is whether he is sufficiently adroit to make the change.

Jay Raynor Sigh of Relief that only 7 of 2,500 tested were positive..Many us of us expected more..nevertheless a symptom of a much wider disease affecting mass food retilaing in this country.

Government warned two years ago The letter to former minister Sir Jim Paice on behalf of Britain's largest horsemeat exporter, High Peak Meat Exports, warned the government that its passport scheme, designed to stop meat containing the anti-inflammatory drug phenylbutazone, known as bute, getting into the food chain was a "debacle". "Defra gave nearly 80 organisations the authority to produce passports and some of them are little better than children could produce … It's a complete mess," he said.

Showjumping official, owner of Red Lion abattoir in Cheshire found traces of bute in horse Express

18 Feb Monday

Owen Paterson meets Big Food (Huffington), and they all say how they are going to work together to regain consumers’ trust.  Retailers ‘food you can trust’.

Retailers now to give regular food test updates

19 Feb Tuesday

Nestle announce they have found a little but not a lot of horse in pasta in Italy and Spain, making it now 12 countries where the meat has been found. UK not affected

Scottish meat sales up as recognition of their quality. BBC Report

Feb 21 Andy Clarke, chief executive of Asda, said he had been “shocked” at the discovery of horse meat in Asda’s own-brand beef bolognese sauce. More A new survey shows that one in four shoppers have resolved to buy less processed meat since the scandal broke - equivalent of four million people . Clarke: What is clear is that there is significant adulteration in the supply chain.

Colin Tudge in New Statesman  reminds us that these events are the “inevitable” outcome of industry “shortcomings” –  “...not accidents at all, but systemic. We have already seen far worse.” He recalls disasters like the foot-and-mouth outbreak of 2001 and the mad cow disease (BSE) of 1986, a “home-grown” epidemic that “began with cost-cutting just the same”.

Feb 22 Justin King Head of Sainsbury’s says that the supermarket industry is facing a “new reality” following the horse meat scandal and that trust in retailers has been “severely damaged” by the discovery of horse meat in supermarket products labelled as beef.  Meeting between supermarket bosses, the Food Standards Agency, and the Government last Monday was “unprecedented” and “shows they are determined to work together to deal with this issue forcefully and decisively”.

 

Birds Eye withdrew a range of beef products as a precaution after its chilli con carne was found to be contaminated by horse DNA.

 

Feb 23 Sodexo – major French supplier and proud of its ‘ethical’, that supplies food to schools, care homes and the armed forces withdrew nearly all its beef after a frozen product tested positive for horse DNA. Sodexo said the situation was “totally unacceptable” and the products were being recalled “with immediate effect”. More on Sodexo incident Sodexo’s Ethical Position.

Give horse meat tainted products to poor says Germany’s Development Minister.

 Hollande calls for compulsory labelling and traceability of meat used in processed foods in Europe to prevent a repeat of the horsemeat scandal. The president's comments come after more traces of horsemeat were found in British food supplies. Horse was found in burgers in a North Lanarkshire school kitchen while burgers in Welsh schools were supplied by a factory which was implicated in the horsemeat scandal.

The French industry body for horse butchers, Interbev Equins, estimates there has been a rise of up to 15% in horsemeat sales since the scandal broke. With French customers now wary of ready meals – frozen food sales are down by 5% in France, and trade at organic stores has risen – shoppers have been flocking to traditional artisan butchers, particularly to get horse.

Feb 24 Italy find first horse meat in frozen lasagna in Bologna – home of spag bol More. Horse meat past off as beef in Danish pizzas The butcher, in a village near Denmark’s second-largest city Arhus, markets itself as a local, high-quality alternative to large consortiums and claims the restaurants knew their product contained horse meat. But Rosenmark says a former employee at the butcher’s supports the claim it has been misleading customers. More

Horse trading Horse meat: Dark dealings of Europe's cruellest trade: Horses sold for meat at a night-time fair in Poland are being transported across Europe in a trade that has suspected links to organised crime. Skaryszew, 75 miles from Warsaw, is the start of a long, and sometimes obscure chain that has been blamed for horse meat being found masquerading as beef in British shops and wholesalers.

Der Speigel says Horse meat found in beef products withdrawn from German shelves has been traced to a supplier in Poland, citing European officials. Beef products with traces of horse found in goulash sold by low-cost retailer Aldi were produced by German firm Dreistern Konserven, which in turn bought its meat via a dealer from Mipol, a Polish-based firm. Horse in kebabs in Berlin.

Horse? No problem neither the producers nor the consumers really care what we eat, though we will be outraged if we are made to look like fools

Feb 25

Horse found in IKEA meatballs...which are iconic and meatballs are internationally sourced. Each store provides either nationally sourced ingredients, or for some special ines – only internationally sources. Meatballs are in latter category. It means this isn’t a local problem but one of their internationally reputable chain. Their restaurants are key to their success, not an accidental add-on. IKEA is one of Top 20 world restauranters. They now the number of people who go in every store round the world and how much more they then spend in the store as a result. For UK the average extra spend is around 40 pounds. IKEA recalls meatballs

 

Ikea also withdrew wiener sausages in the UK last month after tests found 'indications' of horse meat, and it also withdrew a batch of its traditional meatballs. The company said it was removing the sausages from sale in Britain, France, Spain, Ireland and Portugal after tests confirmed 'a few indications of horse meat'. Daily Mail


Co-op new test.. 101 products were tested for contamination as part of a mass testing exercise called for by the Food Standards Agency. None of these products, which cover the totality of current minced beef food range, have been found to contain any trace of horse DNA.

The 27-nation EU bloc must agree on binding origin disclosures for food product ingredients, starting with a better labeling of meat products, German agriculture minister Ilse Aigner said. "Consumers have every right to the greatest-possible transparency," she insisted.

Austria backs the German initiative; but others like Ireland say existing rules are sufficient although Europe-wide controls must be strengthened to address the problem of fraudulent labeling. The scandal has created a split between nations like Britain who see further rules as a protectionist hindrance of free trade under the bloc's single market, and those calling for tougher regulation.

Feb 26

Drop in number of frozen burgers (and others) bought 43%. Frozen ready meals have fallen 13%  Frozen burgers are being ditched by shoppers, though the Big Four supermarkets have largely maintained market share through the horsemeat scandal. 

Whitbread make pledge Owner of Beefeater, Brewers Fayre, Costa Coffee will extend batch testing on processed meat and is planning a new system to track ingredients 'from field to fork'

Feb 27

Tesco pledge to reduce length of chains

FARMERS in Scotland have welcomed a pledge from Tesco’s chief executive to “bring the food we sell closer to home”.Philip Clarke wrote to customers last week promising to buy more British beef, lamb, chicken and pork. He said: “I know that the discovery of horsemeat in products sold in several major retailers, including Tesco, has shaken your trust in food retailers and the products we sell. “Today I make you a promise. Tesco is going to bring the food we sell closer to home. We’re going to make how we source our food simpler, more transparent and shorter, and we will build better relationships with our nation’s farmers.” He said that all Tesco beef, fresh, frozen and in ready meals is already sourced in the British Isles. Poultry Site 

1.                     We’ll put in place better controls

We know that our supply chain is too complicated. So we're making it simpler and introducing world-class traceability and testing.

2.                     We’ll bring food closer to home

A commitment to source more of our meat closer to home. Where it is reasonable to do so, we will source from British farmers and producers.

3.                     We’ll build better relationships with our farmers

Working directly with farmers and growers is key to our new approach. We will build upon our existing Farming Groups and offer contracts with a minimum period of two years to all our suppliers who want them.

4.                     We will create more transparency

We’ll give you more detailed information about our suppliers and how they work than any other retailer.

From Tesco Site. Tesco testing Tesco Advert ‘What burgers have taught us’.

After Mr Clarke’s speech, Mr Kendall said a potentially ‘great opportunity’ had now opened up to British farmers in the wake of the horse meat scandal. “Let’s take him at his word, let’s scrutinise what he has said and hold him to account to make sure Tesco delivers those promises because, if we do, wow, what an opportunity,” Mr Kendall said. Farmers Guardian . "We now need supermarkets to stop scouring the world for the cheapest products they can find and start sourcing high quality, traceable product from farmers here at home. It's not as if it's nuts and bolts, pots and pans or mobile phones - this is our food".

Are supply chains just too big? Ethical Corporation

Does Wolf in Sheep’s clothing spring to mind?

Feb 28 McDonalds free of horse in their burgers National Farmers' Union assured of 'trusted, simple and transparent' supply chain used by fast food chain. very confident" its burgers were free of horsemeat owing to its close contact with British and Irish farmers who produced all its beef,

Taco Bell ( 3 restaurants only) not free. Results of 1,319 new tests unveiled by the FSA today showed that 11 brands had beef products contaminated with equine DNA  Birds Eye  withdrawn three dishes “as a precaution”, discovered its traditional 340g spaghetti bolognese and 400g beef lasagne contained more than 1% horse. A spicy minced beef skewer from catering supplier Brakes was found to be up to 10% horse. And as “horse-gate” showed no sign of fading, more schools were said to be affected. Beef dishes were taken off menus at 49 primaries and 10 nurseries by Bath and North East Somerset Council after it admitted under-11s had eaten contaminated mince.

March

Environment Secretary Owen Paterson said less than one percent of beef products tested for horsemeat had come back positive:

“The vast majority of test results from food retailers, wholesalers, and caterers are now in. The results continue to show that over 99 per cent of processed beef products are what they say they are on the label.

The food industry and Food Standards Agency have moved very quickly to complete over 5000 tests in a very short space of time. Industry testing will continue and results will be published on a quarterly basis.

Investigations into cases where horsemeat has – unacceptably – been discovered will continue, and anyone found guilty of criminal activity should expect to face the consequences.

It is important that consumer trust in the food industry is rebuilt.

Mar 2 US likely to approve horse slaughtering for human consumption, first since 2007

Horsemeat found in Southampton schools Food firm Sodexo last night admitted that its tests had revealed batches of mince it supplied to the two secondary schools 

Mar 3          

M&S ‘We trace it , so you can trust it’ has not needed to withdraw any products as part of the ongoing beef issue. We've tested our products and the results told us what we already knew – where it says so on the packaging, our products contain 100 per cent beef. With specific regard to ready meals we only use M&S Assured fresh beef from farms in the UK. All our fresh beef, chicken, pork and salmon are British or Irish. We always apply the same strict standards wherever we source products from.

Mar 4  IKEA find coliform bacteria in chocolate cake in China, supplied from Sweden WND Remember IKEA’s international sourcing (See February)..not looking good

Mar 6 BBC investigation has found evidence of a criminal conspiracy to move horses, not fit for human consumption, to the UK from Ireland and into the food chain. The investigation claims horses were moved via a smuggling route that in the majority of cases started in Ireland. The BBC revealed the horses were given fake documentation and drugs to make them appear healthier before being delivered to an abattoir in Cheshire. Criminal involvement  linked to that abattoir in Cheshire. Just Food Red Lion abattoir denies criminal involvement. Food Standards Agency (FSA) said it was looking at "inconsistencies with horse passports" at the slaughterhouse. Speaking to BBC Northern Ireland's Spotlight programme, a man claiming to be part of a criminal gang said he had delivered horses to the abattoir on "multiple occasions" on forged papers.  BBC This same abattoir was involved in case of animal welfare a month or so back Telegraph

Mar 7.. And horse in processing isn’t the biggest concern...BMC Medicine Meat Consumption and Mortality study found processed meat linked to higher all-cause mortality. No evidence of poultry causing premature deaths, and while originally linked to red meat, this was knocked out when various factors taken into account. And now its not the horse in processed meat, ut all processed meat you need to worry about. Processed meat found to be correlated with cancer, even taking into account more processed meat is often associated with less fruit and veg. Tim on today saying symptomatic of over indulgence of meat, leads to lot of other meat needing to be processed. Other person saying it is the processing – the salts and additives that the cause of concern. My theory is that processing all healthy farm products turns them into crap food.

BMJ Adulteration of Food The horse meat scandal is just the latest sign that we need a concerted effort to change our collective food culture  There’s nothing new about the adulteration of food. The opportunity to increase profit by surreptitiously substituting inferior ingredients has tempted unscrupulous conmen and women down the centuries. Indeed, what is held to be the very first piece of public health legislation passed by the Westminster parliament was the 1757 “Act for the due making of Bread; and to regulate the Price and Assize thereof; and to punish Persons who shall adulterate Meal, Flour, or Bread.” The current horse meat scandal, which was first exposed in Ireland and has now reached across Europe, shows only that modern food processing has created the opportunity to practise fraud on consumers on a truly massive and international scale. It remains to be seen whether any wrongdoers are punished.

Eric Early in the horsegate saga, we heard of pork meat going into nominally ‘halal’ meals for prisoners.  Subsequently the focus narrowed just to horse DNA, but why are there no conspicuous searches for eg poultry or pig meats in products labelled as beef?  Also is anyone checking for cats, rats and dogs?  Next year, when the cull starts, will they search for badger DNA?

Horsegate will end up in extensive civil commercial litigation over which organizations have to pay compensation.  The lawyers are rubbing their hands, while the insurance companies are worried.  The more cases are settled out of court, the less we will learn.  It may be sensible to keep an eye on those cases that do come to court. My guess is that the determining issue in civil, and maybe criminal cases too, will be the clash between the ‘strict liability’ provisions of UK and EU law on the one hand and on the other the defence of ‘due diligence’.  It will be fascinating to see how far, tick-box paper work will be interpreted as having fulfilled requirements of due diligence. You can’t expect small traders to have big labs, but those that do, eg Tesco, Unilever et al may be expected to deliver more comprehensive diligence. 

DNA Barcoding for food traceability discusses  the effectiveness of DNA barcoding in food traceability, and to delineate some best practices in the application of DNA barcoding throughout the industrial pipeline.

March 11 Tesco caught out again with horse in frozen meatloaf  11 days after giving clearance Tesco said it had pulled the 600g packs of Tesco Simply Roast Meatloaf, made between October last year and January at Eurostock in Craigavon, Northern Ireland, from its shelves.

While involved in an activity talking about audits (are they the only way to guarantee supply chains?) realized that it is the length of the chains which create the issues – if long, they require expensive KPMG type auditing (that cost a fortune), while if closer to home can rely on people looking out and local trust delivering the goods..

April 10 ASDA remove their own Corned Beef as it has traces of Bute in it.

And final joke: A fat ma goes to the doctors and asks what he should do about it. The doctor says that he should watch what he eats. So he gets a ticket for Aintree races.

Who is to blame?

Manufacturers, Culture, Capitalism, Cheats, Markets, 

Supply Chain, Retailers, Local Authorities, Farmers, EU

All of them, None of them

What are the Lessons?

Don’t eat meat, Don’t eat processed meat, Ask for horse burgers by name

Buy from local butchers, Don’t trust any food label, Don’t believe a word they say.

Set up your own abattoir, Shorter Chains. Better auditing

The answer most likely depends are were you set out from – we will all take bits that suit us.. as in the Rorschach Test (thank you Tim)

For me: Does it herald the end of Neo-liberalism?

A month later - one in seven fish sold not the fish they are labelled as. cheap fish is being substituted for expensive fish without the consumer knowing. Moreover, new varieties, never before consumed, are being detected in fish dishes. Research reveals that 7% of cod and haddock - the deep-fried staples of British fish and chips - actually turn out to be cheaper fish substituted to cut costs. In Dublin about a quarter and similar in New Yoprk restaurants. In Europe, about a quarter to a third of fish products tested turned out to be not what was described on the packet or menu. The global industry transports large amounts of frozen fish around the world in containers, with China producing much of it. This means, for example, that one of the biggest points of entry for fish into the European Union is not a port at all - no wharves or boats or even water. It is Frankfurt airport. Dr. Mariani Salford Univsersity found in Britain and Ireland were that cod was being substituted with cheaper fish like pollock and Vietnamese pangasius, which is farmed in estuaries in South-East Asia. He said it seemed to be concentrated in a few fish producers. Federation of Fish Fryers say the problem with mislabelling happens more with "wet fish" - fish which is not fully deep-frozen but which is only kept cold on ice. BBC


Three Months later, in May..

No deaths, sickness, but loads of jokes

Does anybody know of any prosecutions? Fear that culprits wont face justice. EFRA calls Irish traders in. What about? Tesco Pubs Sodexo Irish Beef industry. Ireland await UK inquiry. There were high profile arrests, but has anybody been charged - let alone prosecuted in the UK? Dutch Meat Trader  fined with suspended prison sentence. In July the EFRA Select Committee noted that there had been no prosecutions, despite obvious fraud. If you know of any prosecutions- can you add a comment below..

Justin King of Sainsbury's (who were clear of any contamination) said the retailers were packed into a Defra meeting room on a Saturday morning, and given an almighty dressing down and ordered to take responsibility for one of the biggest food adulteration revelations of recent years. Justin King, regarded as the elder statesman of the grocery business, was, he says, determined not to take the criticism lying down. He accused government officials of failing to understand the industry, and even threatened to call on the prime minister to demand a ceasefire.

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