Following the ‘horse meat in burgers’ scandal, the UK’s Food Standards Agency (FSA) has agreed with the food industry to publish the results of industry testing of meat products, to provide a clearer picture of standards in the food chain. The results will also be made publicly available.
The decision was taken at a meeting to address how testing can maintain consumer confidence in the accuracy of food labelling, attended by Food and Farming Minister David Heath, representatives of the FSA, and major food businesses and suppliers.
“I am pleased that we have been able to agree a way forward to maintain consumer confidence in the food that people eat,” said Catherine Brown, chief executive of the FSA. “We need to move swiftly to get this work under way to reassure consumers.”
“This is a shared problem, and it needs shared solutions,” said Food and Farming Minister David Heath. “Food businesses' agreement to give regular updates on meat testing is a significant move that will give consumers confidence in what they're buying. It's now important that the industry starts sharing this information as soon as possible.”
The FSA and the food industry will now agree a standardised sampling and testing system which will meet accredited standards and test to an agreed level of DNA.
In further developments on meat contamination, the FSA has tested a quantity of frozen meat currently detained in a cold store on the premises of a company called Freeza Meats in Northern Ireland, which is potentially linked to the Silvercrest factory in the Republic of Ireland.
Silvercrest was the supplier of beef burgers that contained horse DNA, identified in a survey carried out by the Food Safety Authority of Ireland.
Of the 12 samples from the suspect consignment that have been tested, two of the samples came back positive for horse meat, at around 80%. The investigation into the traceability of these raw materials and their source is under way. As this meat was detained, it has not entered the food chain.
Meanwhile, the UK’s Ministry of Justice (MoJ) is to suspend a firm supplying meat to prisons after tests found that it may have provided pies and pasties described as Halal - but with traces of pork DNA.
Reports have also surfaced from China that more than 50 tonnes of products at the Shengtai Meat Processing Plant in Liaoning province have been seized by police following the discovery that the company appeared to have substituted mutton and beef with cheaper duck.