Horsemeat scandal report: Force supermarkets to do DNA tests on meat, say MPs

Regular checks could help avoid another scandal over horse  in ‘beef’ products

Large retailers should be made to carry out regular DNA tests on all the meat products that they sell to ensure their food contains the ingredients they advertise, a committee of MPs concluded on Monday.

In its report into the recent horsemeat scandal, the Commons Environment, Food and Rural Affairs Committee said supermarkets should be forced to report their findings to the Food Standards Agency (FSA) with a summary published on the retailer’s website.

It added that the cost of the additional testing should be borne by retailers and not passed on to consumers. The MPs also condemned the slow pace of the investigation into the horsemeat scandal, with no prosecutions six months after the problem was first revealed.

They said that the Government should consider reversing changes made in 2010 that brought the FSA back within Government control – suggesting that this might have hampered its efforts to get on top of the issue.

The MPs acknowledged horse meat contamination was limited to a “relatively small” number of beef products sold in the UK, with 99 per cent of those tested containing no horse DNA.

Across the EU as a whole, 4.66 per cent of products tested were found to contain more than 1 per cent horse DNA. But it expressed “surprise” that in EU-mandated tests, 14 out of 836 samples of horsemeat from the UK tested positive for the painkiller bute – the highest number of positive tests in the EU.

The committee said there were clearly “many loopholes” in the system of horse passports and called for assurances that horse movements within the UK and between the UK and Ireland were being properly monitored.

“Retailers have a clear responsibility to ensure the products they sell are accurately labelled,” they concluded. “While some retailers may have been misled, those serving large sectors of the market need to ‘up their game’ and verify with greater accuracy the assurances of their suppliers. There must be regular, detailed tests on all meat or meat-based ingredients which form part of a processed meat product.”

They added that while they welcomed the commitment of some supermarkets to carry out DNA tests on meat products, this needs to be made mandatory. “We recommend that this be made compulsory for large food retailers, with appropriate penalties imposed for those who fail to do so,” they said.

The committee’s chair, Anne McIntosh, said the evidence they had seen suggested there had been a complex network of companies trading in and mislabelling beef or beef products which she described as “fraudulent and illegal”.

“Although the fraud proved not as extensive as originally feared, it has reduced consumer confidence in frozen and processed meats,” she said.

“Retailers and meat processors should be more vigilant against the risk of deliberate adulteration. Regular and detailed DNA tests are needed on all meat or meat-based ingredients which form part of a processed or frozen meat product. Consumers need to know that what they buy is what the label says it is.”

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Sport
sportWWE latest including Sting vs Triple H, Brock Lesnar vs Roman Reigns and The Undertaker vs Bray Wyatt
Arts and Entertainment
Louis Theroux: By Reason of Insanity takes him behind the bars again
tvBy Reason of Insanity, TV review
Arts and Entertainment
Cassetteboy's latest video is called Emperor's New Clothes rap
videoThe political parody genius duo strike again with new video
Arts and Entertainment
tvPoldark, TV review
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA special investigation by Andy McSmith
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

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

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Junior Web Designer - Client Liaison

£6 per hour: Recruitment Genius: This is an exciting opportunity to join a gro...

Recruitment Genius: Service Delivery Manager

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: A Service Delivery Manager is required to join...

Recruitment Genius: Massage Therapist / Sports Therapist

£12000 - £24000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A opportunity has arisen for a ...

Ashdown Group: Practice Accountant - Bournemouth - £38,000

£32000 - £38000 per annum: Ashdown Group: A successful accountancy practice in...

Day In a Page

No postcode? No vote

Floating voters

How living on a houseboat meant I didn't officially 'exist'
Louis Theroux's affable Englishman routine begins to wear thin

By Reason of Insanity

Louis Theroux's affable Englishman routine begins to wear thin
Power dressing is back – but no shoulderpads!

Power dressing is back

But banish all thoughts of Eighties shoulderpads
Spanish stone-age cave paintings 'under threat' after being re-opened to the public

Spanish stone-age cave paintings in Altamira 'under threat'

Caves were re-opened to the public
'I was the bookies’ favourite to be first to leave the Cabinet'

Vince Cable interview

'I was the bookies’ favourite to be first to leave the Cabinet'
Election 2015: How many of the Government's coalition agreement promises have been kept?

Promises, promises

But how many coalition agreement pledges have been kept?
The Gaza fisherman who built his own reef - and was shot dead there by an Israeli gunboat

The death of a Gaza fisherman

He built his own reef, and was fatally shot there by an Israeli gunboat
Saudi Arabia's airstrikes in Yemen are fuelling the Gulf's fire

Saudi airstrikes are fuelling the Gulf's fire

Arab intervention in Yemen risks entrenching Sunni-Shia divide and handing a victory to Isis, says Patrick Cockburn
Zayn Malik's departure from One Direction shows the perils of fame in the age of social media

The only direction Zayn could go

We wince at the anguish of One Direction's fans, but Malik's departure shows the perils of fame in the age of social media
Young Magician of the Year 2015: Meet the schoolgirl from Newcastle who has her heart set on being the competition's first female winner

Spells like teen spirit

A 16-year-old from Newcastle has set her heart on being the first female to win Young Magician of the Year. Jonathan Owen meets her
Jonathan Anderson: If fashion is a cycle, this young man knows just how to ride it

If fashion is a cycle, this young man knows just how to ride it

British designer Jonathan Anderson is putting his stamp on venerable house Loewe
Number plates scheme could provide a licence to offend in the land of the free

Licence to offend in the land of the free

Cash-strapped states have hit on a way of making money out of drivers that may be in collision with the First Amendment, says Rupert Cornwell
From farm to fork: Meet the Cornish fishermen, vegetable-growers and butchers causing a stir in London's top restaurants

From farm to fork in Cornwall

One man is bringing together Cornwall's most accomplished growers, fishermen and butchers with London's best chefs to put the finest, freshest produce on the plates of some of the country’s best restaurants
Robert Parker interview: The world's top wine critic on tasting 10,000 bottles a year, absurd drinking notes and New World wannabes

Robert Parker interview

The world's top wine critic on tasting 10,000 bottles a year, absurd drinking notes and New World wannabes
Don't believe the stereotype - or should you?

Don't believe the stereotype - or should you?

We exaggerate regional traits and turn them into jokes - and those on the receiving end are in on it too, says DJ Taylor