MPs push for new powers for FSA as officials seize yet more suspect meat

 

Food Standards Agency officials investigating the adulteration of beef with horse meat seized more supplies, as MPs demanded the watchdog be handed greater powers to check for fraud in the meat trade.

FSA inspectors struck at Farmbox Meats, near Aberystwyth, one of two meat-processing plants that they and the police raided the previous day. Batches of meat stored on pallets at the rear of Farmbox's offices were taken away for analysis.

The fresh action came as European countries stepped up their efforts to trace horse meat illicitly slipped into the food chain in the guise of costlier beef. As he joined EU agriculture ministers meeting in Brussels to discuss how to tackle the crisis, the Environment Secretary, Owen Paterson, admitted that authorities had been ignorant of the scale the scandal, which has so far led to the withdrawal from sale of more than 10 million products following the discovery of horse DNA in Irish-made beef burgers last month.

Mr Paterson – who has been criticised for responding sluggishly – said: "This has come up very rapidly. Nobody had a clue that there was adulteration of beef products. It looked like very small amounts."

In the past month Tesco, Aldi, Lidl, Iceland, and Findus have all withdrawn processed beef products because of the discovery of undeclared horse meat.

The wholesaler Makro became the latest company to be affected, announcing that equine DNA had been found in beef burgers supplied by Ireland's Silvercrest, one of the firms involved in last month's recall. Makro said: "One brand, Unger beef burgers 48/4oz supplied by Silvercrest Foods, did contain a trace of horse."

At the request of the FSA, companies are carrying out tests of a wide range of beef products to establish the extent of the contamination. In a report, a House of Commons committee recommends the Government give the FSA statutory powers to force producers to undertake the testing. Launching the results of its short inquiry into the contamination of beef products, Anne McIntosh, chairwoman of the cross-party Environment, Food and Rural Affairs Committee, said: "The scale of contamination in the meat supply chain is breathtaking.

"Elements within the food industry have duped consumers in the UK and across Europe in pursuit of profit. The Government must ensure effective traceability requirements in respect of the sale and marketing of processed foods originating from EU member states, including the UK."

She pointed out that retailer had "responsibilities" to ensure UK food was labelled accurately and gave shoppers sufficient information to make informed decisions about their purchases. The FSA made no comment in response to the report.

The Department for the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) indicated that it would be tightening up the rules, saying: "Once we have established the full facts we will take whatever action is necessary so that this unacceptable situation cannot happen again."

A leading academic, Professor Chris Elliott, argued that rather than concentrating on changing the nature of the testing regime for horse meat, ministers and the FSA should be trying to restore the integrity of the whole food system. Professor Elliott, director of the Institute for Global Food Security at Queen's University Belfast, said: "They can't just point their radar system at horse; there are many other things that could be going on."

In the House of Commons, David Cameron reiterated that retailers were responsible for the contents of their products. He warned the state would be taking a tough line on anyone found adulterating meat, saying: "If there has been criminal activity there should be the full intervention of the law."

The comments came after Farmbox Meats and the Peter Boddy slaughterhouse in Todmorden, West Yorkshire, were temporarily shut down by the FSA amid claims they supplied and used horse carcasses in burgers and kebabs.

After the FSA visited Farmbox again, its owner, Dafydd Raw-Rees, insisted the company had done nothing wrong. He added that it would continue to "bone" meat despite being told to cease operations.

In a statement Aled Owen, a solicitor who is representing Farmbox, said: "The company would wish to express its dissatisfaction with the comments made by the FSA, which are untrue."

Would Osborne eat this?

Confronted with a £1.50 spaghetti bolognese, it was hard to tell if the Chancellor looked queasy at questions over the safety of meat products or the thought of digging in to the ready-meal. Asked if he would be prepared to eat the dish, George Osborne said: "What I want is good information on our food."

Findus Beef Lasagne contaminated with up to 100 per cent horse meat was meanwhile being sold for £70 on eBay. The online auction site later said the offending sale had been removed.

Voices
voicesMoyes' tragedy is one the Deputy PM understands all too well, says Matthew Norman
Arts & Entertainment
Such tweet sorrow: Will's gone digital
arts
News
Matthew Mcnulty and Jessica Brown Findlay in 'Jamaica Inn'
mediaHundreds complain over dialogue levels in period drama
Arts & Entertainment
Rocker of ages: Chuck Berry
musicWhy do musicians play into old age?
VIDEO
Arts & Entertainment
With Jo Joyner in 'Trying Again'
tvHe talks to Alice Jones on swapping politics for pillow talk
News
Jilly's jewels: gardener Alan Titchmarsh
peopleCountry Life magazine's list of 'gallant' public figures throws light on what it means to be a gentleman in the modern world
Sport
John Terry goes down injured in the 70th minute
sportAtletico Madrid 0 Chelsea 0: Blues can finish the job at Stamford Bridge, but injuries to Terry and Cech are a concern for Mourinho
Student
student
News
<b>Rebecca Adlington</b>
<br />This, the first British swimmer to win two
Olympic gold medals in 100 years, is the eversmiling
face of the athletes who will, we're
confident, make us all proud at London 2012
peopleRebecca Adlington on 'nose surgery'
Arts & Entertainment
tvJudge for yourself
Life & Style
tech
News
Tough call: is the psychological distress Trott is suffering an illness? (Getty)
healthJonathan Trott and the problems of describing mental illness
Life & Style
23 April 2014: Google marks St George's Day with a drawing depicting England's patron saint slaying a fire-breathing dragon
tech
Life & Style
On the dogwalk: a poodle on the runway during a Mulberry show in London
fashionThe duo behind Asos and Achica have launched a new venture offering haute couture to help make furry companions fashionable
News
peopleEmma Appleton says photographer said he would shoot her for magazine if she slept with him
Extras
indybest
News
peopleRevealed: Goop.com's losses - and the pay rises
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition iPad app?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs Food & Drink

    NGO and Community Development in Cambodia

    Unpaid: Kaya Responsible Travel: There are many small development projects in ...

    Sports coaching volunteer jobs

    Unpaid: Kaya Responsible Travel: Kaya Responsible Travel offer a variety of sp...

    Turtle Nesting and Coral Reef Conservation in Borneo

    Unpaid: Kaya Responsible Travel: Volunteer with Kaya in Borneo and work on a p...

    Elephant research project in Namibia

    Unpaid: Kaya Responsible Travel: If you have a passion for elephants and want ...

    Day In a Page

    Brits who migrate to Costa del Sol more unhappy than those who stay at home

    It's not always fun in the sun: Moving abroad does not guarantee happiness

    Brits who migrate to Costa del Sol more unhappy than those who stay at home
    Migrants in Britain a decade on: They came, they worked, they stayed in Lincolnshire

    Migrants in Britain a decade on

    They came, they worked, they stayed in Lincolnshire
    Chris Addison on swapping politics for pillow talk

    Chris Addison on swapping politics for pillow talk

    The 'Thick of It' favourite thinks the romcom is an 'awful genre'. So why is he happy with a starring role in Sky Living's new Lake District-set series 'Trying Again'?
    Why musicians play into their old age

    Why musicians play into their old age

    Nick Hasted looks at how they are driven by a burning desire to keep on entertaining fans despite risking ridicule
    How can you tell a gentleman?

    How can you tell a gentleman?

    A list of public figures with gallant attributes by Country Life magazine throws a fascinating light on what it means to be a gentleman in the modern world
    Pet a porter: posh pet pampering

    Pet a porter: posh pet pampering

    The duo behind Asos and Achica have launched a new venture offering haute couture to help make furry companions fashionable
    A History of the First World War in 100 moments: The mutiny that sent a ripple of fear through the Empire

    A History of the First World War in 100 moments

    The mutiny that sent a ripple of fear through the Empire
    Hot stuff: 10 best kettles

    Hot stuff: 10 best kettles

    Celebrate St George’s Day with a nice cup of tea. Now you just need to get the water boiled
    Sam Wallace: Why Giggs is perfect fit as Manchester United boss... in the longer term

    Sam Wallace

    Why Ryan Giggs is perfect fit as Manchester United boss... in the longer term
    Renaud Lavillenie: The sky's the limit for this pole vaulter's ambitions

    Renaud Lavillenie: The sky's the limit for this pole vaulter's ambitions

    Having smashed Sergei Bubka's 21-year-old record, the French phenomenon tells Simon Turnbull he can go higher
    Through the screen: British Pathé opens its archives

    Through the screen

    British Pathé opens its archives
    The man behind the papier mâché mask

    Frank Sidebottom

    The man behind the papier mâché mask
    Chris Marker: Mystic film-maker with a Midas touch

    Mystic film-maker with a Midas touch

    Chris Marker retrospective is a revelation
    Boston runs again: Thousands take to the streets for marathon as city honours dead and injured of last year's bombing

    Boston runs again

    Thousands of runners take to the streets as city honours dead of last year
    40 years of fostering and still holding the babies (and with no plans to retire)

    40 years of fostering and holding the babies

    In their seventies and still working as specialist foster parents