© Field Fayre - The Organic Store 2013

Written by: Steve Jones, Consultant to the Cattle & Dairy Industry, Forest of Dean

In the light of the recent food scandal involving the mislabelling of convenience food products entering the food chain from abroad, it seems pertinent in the least to ban imports of untraceable meat items. We are probably at the mere tip of an iceberg of misinformation and criminal activity that is feeding our country with meat products that in the least are unethically sourced and at its worst a threat to human health.

The BSE outbreak in the 1987 was initially treated in a similar cavalier way by politicians. The then agricultural Minister John Gummer denounced any problems with BSE infected meat as being a threat to human health. In a public display he tried to encourage his 4yr old daughter to eat a beef burger, which she declined. We now find our own Environment Minister, Owen Paterson, doing the same thing in dumbing down public fears relating to the possible implications to human health in our food supply chain.


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History tells a different story. Our cattle industry soon realised that we were to embark upon severe restrictions into how we trade and produce beef. Europe and the world was quick to ban British imports of beef; the consumer went for foreign imports over their own supply chain and this is when the culling of bull calves began in earnest in the dairy industry because there was no market for beef steers.

The world was quick to castigate our beef industry, but our ministers are slow to impose a ban on foreign imports now that there is a threat to our health in the UK. I believe there should be a complete meat import ban until the supply chain is purged of adulterated meat products.

There are two main areas of concern here. Meat products that are disguised as something they are not are likely to mask a multitude of animal welfare abuses that our British farmers are in the fore front of eradicating here in the UK.

Our pig industry has fully complied with the banning of sow stalls, which much of Europe has not adhered to; likewise we have enriched battery cages for hens but more importantly there is a burgeoning market for free range eggs, poultry and pork. There is also a plethora of production incentives and standards such as the Red Tractor, freedom food labels and Stewardship Schemes. The consumer demands traceability and accountability. Our farmers are quick to change even when impeded by the low farm gate prices that they receive from supermarkets and processors; the very ones who are stifling our meat and milk industry and the very ones who are quick to import substandard food from abroad.

The second issue here is disease, drug and chemical adulteration that may be getting into our food chain by means of illegally imported meat.

Much of the meat has been traced back to Romania, with two abattoirs sighted as being involved in trafficking horse meat. Many more will undoubtedly come to the attention of the authorities but the matrix of deceit is so entrenched that only an outright ban will secure the safety of the British consumer. The supply chain is so vast and so complex that it is unlikely that illegal meat could be detected and exposed between slaughter, processing and delivery to the UK.

We must appreciate; too, that pig meat has also been implicated in the illegal importation process. It was probably the remnants of an imported ham sandwich that caused the Foot and Mouth outbreak in 2001.

The scandal doesn’t end there.  Read more by following this link….