Irish and British authorities criticised for horsemeat scandal action

A House of Commons report has criticised the Irish and British governments for their action on the horsemeat scandal

Report critical of governments’ failure to prosecute those responsible

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16 July 2013

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A new report into the horsemeat controversy has criticised the Irish and British governments’ failure to prosecute those responsible. The House of Commons inquiry said a "complex, highly organised network of companies" is responsible for the "fraudulent and illegal" trade in mislabelled meat. The British Environment and Rural Affairs Committee said that it was dismayed at the slow pace of investigations into how horsemeat came to be passed off as beef in millions of beef burgers and ready meals.

MPs called for prosecutions to be mounted against those responsible and said the UK’s Food Standards Authority must improve relations with authorities in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland as well as the Republic. The horsemeat scandal erupted six months ago when the Food Safety Authority revealed the presence of horsemeat in frozen burgers.

The report said the Irish and British governments failed to acknowledge the extent of the network or prosecute any of the companies involved. The Committee heard evidence from the Food Safety Authority of Ireland during its hearings and was critical of its performance during the crisis. "The evidence suggests that the contamination was a result of fraud by elements of the food industry seeking to make a profit and able to do so despite food traceability requirements."

The report was also critical of retailers arguing that they should have been more vigilant and recommends retailers carry out regular DNA tests on meat and meat-based ingredients. The report says that any costs associated with testing should be borne by the retailers and not passed onto consumers.

However, Minister for Agriculture Simon Coveney has defended the government’s handling of the saga. Speaking this morning, (Tuesday), Minister Coveney said a ‘tough, hard-hitting’ report into the presence of horsemeat in Irish meat products was published three months ago. "We acted quickly and swiftly and with absolute priority to get to the bottom of the horsemeat crisis which became a European crisis very, very quickly," Minister Coveney told RTE’s Morning Ireland.

Minister Coveney said the State is pursuing one prosecution "in relation to one company that we know deliberately put false labels on product". He said the government has been taking legal advice as to how to secure that prosecution. "I’ve made it very clear that I want to secure prosecutions but I’m not going to go to court unless I know I can win," he added. "It takes time to put a case together to make sure you win but I can assure you it is not because of a lack of effort and if we can secure a prosecution we will do that."

 

 

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