Meat of the issue

THERE is a clear reason why Yorkshire supermarket giant Morrisons has emerged unscathed from the horsemeat scandal – it sources its cuts of meat from UK farms so there is a very small chance of “rogue” products entering the food chain.

The same cannot be said for the Government and Food Standards Agency, both of which are facing accusations that they ignored warnings in 2011 claiming that horsemeat was illegally entering the food chain.

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Assessing the veracity of this assertion is not straight-forward – Caroline Spelman, the then Environment Secretary, left the Government in last autumn’s reshuffle while Farm Minister Jim Paice was demoted to the backbenchers. Subsequently knighted in the New Year honours, he denied being recipient of such a warning.

That said, it is clear that the FSA’s checks have been inadequate and, once the extent of the contamination is established, there needs to be an inquiry into how the food chain was compromised – and the steps that need to be taken to protect its integrity.