News item

Trading Standards Institute describes horsemeat scandal as a “gross betrayal of trust”

HorseTrading standards officers and environmental health officers across the UK are today on high alert following the most recent discovery of horse meat in some ready meals.

Trading standards services are working with the Food Standards Agency on a response strategy that will result in local authorities identifying and inspecting all food premises that are processing or repacking beef products within the UK to protect consumers.

Andy Foster, Trading Standards Institute’s Operations and Policy Director, said: "The discovery of horse meat in processed food products at such high levels suggests deliberate fraudulent activity, not accidental contamination. We are working very closely with the Food Standards Agency to respond to the crisis and all local authorities are being encouraged to identify food premises in their boundaries that might pose a risk and take whatever action they feel necessary to protect consumers. This may include audit trails, documentation checks or sampling.

"While this is not a safety issue, this is a clear case of consumers paying for something and not just getting something else, but they are getting a product which would repulse most UK consumers. As consumers we put a lot of trust and faith in the food manufacturing sector to produce food that is safe and meets its description - this is a gross betrayal of that trust.

"When this is over the food manufacturing sector will have to look very hard at itself and do whatever it needs to do to restore faith and trust back into the food chain that has been inevitably drained through this scandal.

"Trading standards officers and the Food Standards Agency will be doing all we can to locate and remove any food that is affected once that is done we will ensure action is taken against those who are responsible."

Jenny Morris of the Chartered Institute of Environmental Health said: "Environmental health officers will be working very closely with trading standards colleagues to provide a coherent response to this crisis of confidence.  We would echo that we do not believe this to be a food safety issue but would encourage any consumers who are concerned with anything they have bought to return them to the retailer concerned."

The Government policy responsibility for securing safe food for consumers rests with the Food Standards Agency, but frontline responsibility is exercised by trading standards in local authorities together with their environmental health colleagues.

8 February 2013

Our previous statement on the horse meat scandal - 18 January:

www.tradingstandards.gov.uk/extra/news-item.cfm/newsid/1055