Horse meat scandal: Food Standards Agency denies 'asleep on the job' jibe
The Food Standards Agency has rejected claims that it was “asleep on the job” by not detecting the presence of horse DNA in processed meat products sooner.
But its chief executive, addressing the agency’s board meeting yesterday, said the body had to ask whether it should have been “more alert” to the risks of possible contamination.
Catherine Brown told the FSA board: “We have been irritated by suggestions that we were in some way asleep on the job, suggestions that come from those who speak with the benefit of perfect hindsight.
“I have yet to see any evidence of someone highlighting, whether in public or private, that this was likely to happen.
Business Cards From Only £10.95 Delivered www.myprint-247.co.ukView details
Our heavyweight cards have FREE UV silk coating, FREE next day delivery & VAT included. Choose from 1000's of pre-designed templates or upload your own artwork. Orders dispatched within 24hrs.
Terms: Visit our site for more products: Business Cards, Compliment Slips, Letterheads, Leaflets, Postcards, Posters & much more. All items are free next day delivery. www.myprint-247.co.uk
Contact: 01858 468192
Valid until: Wednesday, May 22 2013
“And this criticism ignores the fact that if we missed something, so did our counterparts in every European member state and every food business in the UK and in Europe.”
Ms Brown said the FSA would have to improve how it investigated possible risks in the food chain.
“If we are irritated by the criticism, we also have to reflect on whether we could have been more alert to this risk,” she added. “We must consider the mechanisms we have to use in our analysis of risks to identify specific threats. As part of this we have for some time acknowledged the risk of fraud in the food chain. In the future we need to work better with industry to share information and ideas and potential hazards and problems in the supply chain.”
She praised the UK reaction to the horse meat scandal, saying it “dwarfs the response in other European countries”, but said the scope of the FSA’s power needs to be considered and will be discussed at the next board meeting.
“There is a real challenge for us and for the food industry to address consumer confidence in the coming months and make sure consumers have well-founded confidence in the food they eat,” added Ms Brown.
FSA chairman Jeff Rooker said consumers had been left feeling “cheated” by those who mislabelled meat products containing horse DNA.
“They have fiddled the books and cheated the public, and the public have every right to be damned annoyed about it,” he said.
Mr Rooker said the public was not only “annoyed it had happened in the first place” but also possibly at how long the contamination went on for before it was detected.
“It’s a scandal against the public,” he said. “But no one has been injured, to the best of our knowledge.
“To that extent, we say ‘thank heavens’.”