Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Horsemeat fraud: a huge system failure

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Some 50,000 tons of meat supplied by two Dutch trading companies and sold as beef across Europe since January 2011 may have contained horsemeat, reports the BBC and others. The meat is being recalled where possible, the Dutch authorities say.

The suspect meat was supplied by Wiljo Import en Export BV and Vleesgroothandel Willy Selten and, in total, 132 companies in the Netherlands and some 370 more around Europe are affected by the discovery. 

The find was made as part of EU-wide tests to trace horse DNA in processed beef foods and to detect a veterinary drug used on horses. Inspectors examining the records of the Dutch trading companies found that the origin of the supplied meat was unclear. As a result it was not possible to confirm whether slaughterhouses had respected procedures. 

The recall covers meat dating back to 1 January 2011 up until 15 February this year, but what is not being said is that such a large quantity of meat placed, undetected, on the market, the provenance of which is unknown – and was only discovered as a result of special measures adopted after earlier discoveries - represents a massive failure of the EU mandated regulatory system.

And as for the Netherlands, where the failure has been detected, the food control system has been inspected on many occasions by the EU's Food and Veterinary Office (FVO), most recently inSeptember 2011, when such issues as "traceability" requirements were examined and passed muster. 

That the temporary "fix" is now picking up the system defects – at last – should not be allowed to obscure that fact that the system as devised, mandated and approved by the EU failed to do the job, and it has taken national agencies to pick up the pieces. 

Such points have been made before on this blog, but it remains the case that the EU is given a free ride by the legacy media, its failures unremarked and unrecorded. The omissions don't change the reality though. Whatever the EU turns its hand to is usually a disaster, sooner or later.