Editorial: Where's the beef? We should know

 

Share
Related Topics

Whatever your feelings about eating horse meat, the discovery that some supermarket burgers have been found to contain horse DNA raises a serious question: why did the British food safety authorities fail to spot the problem? It is only thanks to the Irish that we know that 37 per cent of spot-tested frozen beefburgers contained horse DNA and an extraordinary 85 per cent also contained traces of pork.

After all the alarms and scandals surrounding BSE, most people will have assumed that this country had proper mechanisms in place to check the origins of meat. But although every meat animal now has an individual ear tag, and cattle must have passports to be moved from farm to market or slaughterhouse, surveillance of imported meat seems far more lax.

Silvercrest, the Irish company which sold beefburgers to Tesco containing 29 per cent horse meat, says it believes the contaminating meat came from Continental Europe and announced that it was investigating two suppliers. It is reasonable to ask why it did not do that earlier. But it is also reasonable to ask whether the British food authorities have sufficient measures in place to cope with the increasing globalisation of the food supply chain.

Government ministers and public scientists have given blithe reassurances that the findings pose no risk to public health. Yet it is difficult to know how they can be so confident. As they admit, they do not know the provenance of much imported meat.

Nor do they seem properly concerned about the presence of pig DNA in beef products, blandly explaining that different meat is processed in the same plants. This should alarm more than those whose faith forbids them to eat pork. Everyone is entitled to know what they are eating. We have no alternative but to trust what is written on the packaging, so any discrepancy between food and label should be a cause for concern. The British food authorities need to introduce more random checks – and tougher fines for those who break the rules.

React Now

Latest stories from i100
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Senior Digital Marketing Consultant

£28000 - £45000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Senior Digital Marketing Cons...

Recruitment Genius: Assistant Stores Keeper

£16640 - £18500 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An Assistant Stores Keeper is r...

Recruitment Genius: Claims Administrator

£16000 - £18500 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an excellent opportunit...

Recruitment Genius: Software Developer - C# / ASP.NET / SQL

£17000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Developer required to join a bu...

Day In a Page

Read Next
If Miliband is PM, it is expected that Cameron will stand down as party leader quickly  

Election 2015: The Ed Miliband I worked with in Downing Street

Nick Rowley
 

Election catch-up: I’m not saying the Ed stone is bad – it is so terrible I am lost for words

John Rentoul
Fishing for votes with Nigel Farage: The Ukip leader shows how he can work an audience as he casts his line to the disaffected of Grimsby

Fishing is on Nigel Farage's mind

Ukip leader casts a line to the disaffected
Who is bombing whom in the Middle East? It's amazing they don't all hit each other

Who is bombing whom in the Middle East?

Robert Fisk untangles the countries and factions
China's influence on fashion: At the top of the game both creatively and commercially

China's influence on fashion

At the top of the game both creatively and commercially
Lord O’Donnell: Former cabinet secretary on the election and life away from the levers of power

The man known as GOD has a reputation for getting the job done

Lord O'Donnell's three principles of rule
Rainbow shades: It's all bright on the night

Rainbow shades

It's all bright on the night
'It was first time I had ever tasted chocolate. I kept a piece, and when Amsterdam was liberated, I gave it to the first Allied soldier I saw'

Bread from heaven

Dutch survivors thank RAF for World War II drop that saved millions
Britain will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power - Labour

How 'the Axe' helped Labour

UK will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power
Rare and exclusive video shows the horrific price paid by activists for challenging the rule of jihadist extremists in Syria

The price to be paid for challenging the rule of extremists

A revolution now 'consuming its own children'
Welcome to the world of Megagames

Welcome to the world of Megagames

300 players take part in Watch the Skies! board game in London
'Nymphomaniac' actress reveals what it was really like to star in one of the most explicit films ever

Charlotte Gainsbourg on 'Nymphomaniac'

Starring in one of the most explicit films ever
Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi: The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers

Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi

The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers
Vince Cable interview: Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'

Vince Cable exclusive interview

Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'
Iwan Rheon interview: Game of Thrones star returns to his Welsh roots to record debut album

Iwan Rheon is returning to his Welsh roots

Rheon is best known for his role as the Bastard of Bolton. It's gruelling playing a sadistic torturer, he tells Craig McLean, but it hasn't stopped him recording an album of Welsh psychedelia
Russell Brand's interview with Ed Miliband has got everyone talking about The Trews

Everyone is talking about The Trews

Russell Brand's 'true news' videos attract millions of viewers. But today's 'Milibrand' interview introduced his resolutely amateurish style to a whole new crowd
Morne Hardenberg interview: Cameraman for BBC's upcoming show Shark on filming the ocean's most dangerous predator

It's time for my close-up

Meet the man who films great whites for a living