CCTV to be compulsory in English slaughterhouses

Source:  Horse & Hound

CCTV to be compulsory for slaughterhouses

by Lucy Elder

CCTV will be compulsory in all English slaughterhouses under plans revealed by environment secretary Michael Gove today (11 August).

Mr Gove said the measures he is setting out “will reinforce our status as a global leader” in animal welfare.

Under the new plans, footage would be available to the Food Standards Agency’s (FSA) official vets, who monitor and enforce animal welfare standards in slaughterhouses.

A six-week consultation on the proposals has started and the plans are likely to go before parliament early next year.

British Veterinary Association president Gudrun Ravetz welcomed the plans, in particular the commitment to official FSA vets having unrestricted access to footage.

The government has also confirmed it is updating the welfare codes for chickens, pigs, dogs, cats and horses.

Read the rest of this story HERE.

Happy Birthday, Horsemeat Scandal

Source: By Eve Mitchell as published in

“…if you’re going to buy heavily processed foods you need to know this stuff –”

Horsemeat on a bunIt’s been a year since we were first told the beef we buy in the EU may actually be horsemeat, but we still don’t really know what happened, how far it spread, who is responsible, or how they will be called to account for themselves.

We’ve seen a smattering of arrests, notably the September 2013 arrests of eight managers of the French company Spanghero on charges of aggravated fraud and mislabelling of food products. French authorities say they “knowingly sold” 750 tonnes of horsemeat mislabelled as beef. Around two-thirds of this went to French firm Comigel’s Luxembourg subsidiary Tavola and found its way into some 4.5 million products that were then sold again to 28 companies operating in 13 European countries. This may be the source of the tainted Findus “beef” lasagne (100% horsemeat) found on UK supermarket shelves.

Sound complicated? It is, but if you’re going to buy heavily processed foods you need to know this stuff – unless you’re happy to just pinch your nose and swallow.

Justice is elusive. Accused of netting some €500,000 over six months of fraud (£425,000 or US$681,000), Spanghero had been stripped of its operating license in February 2013. It then closed in June, changed managers, sacked nearly 60% of its workforce, renamed itself La Lauragaise, refinanced and was trading again by the end of July – protesting its “innocence” all the way. Then came the arrests in September. The company’s new tagline “Saveurs des terroirs” (“The flavours of the land”, with heavy overtones of traditional cultural quality) feels like a bad joke.

Flagship arrests, while welcome, are not enough. Supermarkets sold us this stuff but are not feeling the heat. The UK Parliamentary inquiry into the affair quizzed supermarket bosses, pointing out to Tesco that it is “notorious” for rejecting misshapen apples but somehow managed to miss the fact that products labelled beef were actually up to 29% horse. The Tesco representative attempted to blame consumers, saying the company does what they want, but this didn’t wash with the committee, which retorted, “You obviously don’t [do what your customers want] on horse.”

The inquiry pressed that if beef is trading at a premium to horse, and with “unscrupulous people out there, as obviously there are,” surely supermarkets should watch cheaper products more closely. Tesco said each of its suppliers is scrutinised with the same ”rigour” (Tesco does one DNA test per year at each meat production site). Horsemeat was still being found in Tesco products as late as June, but as the Food Standards Agency only reports results over 1%, for all we know horsemeat is still masquerading as beef all over the place. At this stage it isn’t in anybody’s interest to say differently, and consumers have to take what they can get.

Supermarkets sell UK shoppers 80% of our food, so when they fail us, it is a big deal. Tesco pleads innocence, saying its supplier used unapproved suppliers further down the chain. The Committee’s July 2013 report concluding its inquiry said while some retailers may have been misled, the big ones “need to ‘up their game’”, and the costs should rest on companies, not consumers. The inquiry concluded, “Retailers and meat processors should have been more vigilant against the risk of deliberate adulteration,” instead of taking everything “on trust”. The Committee continued, “We are dismayed at the slow pace of investigations and would like assurance that prosecutions will be mounted where there is evidence of fraud or other illegal activity.” That was in July 2013.

So what has the UK Government done? Testifying before the inquiry in January 2013 Minister for Agriculture and Food David Heath MP announced a wide-ranging review of the crisis, but the report was kicked into the long grass and is not due before an unnamed point in 2014, with actual action who knows when after that. Meanwhile the inquiry heard the Government is proposing to decriminalise food labelling violations amid a declining number of public analysts and labs able to carry out food testing and budget cuts to the local authorities responsible for food testing.

UK Secretary of State for Food and Farming Owen Paterson said of the horsemeat scandal: “I think we came out of it very strongly.” On addressing the scandal he said, “Firstly we are bound by the rules of the European market,” although this is a notable departure from his feelings in other areas (Paterson calls Europe’s rules on GM food “medieval” and compares them to “witchcraft”). The annual review of his department showed that fewer than a third of his staff have confidence in managerial decision making and fewer than a quarter think their management have a clear vision of the future. They are not alone.

Some say all this is proof that “Big Retail has government in an armlock”. It sure feels like they have shoppers under the other arm.

On 14 January 2014 the European Parliament passed a motion on food fraud that “deplores” that it has never been an EU enforcement priority and reiterates that “the retail sector has a special responsibility to guarantee the integrity of food products”. With supermarkets claiming innocence and the UK Government playing “hurry up and wait,” maybe the EU can force some action on our behalf.

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Its BACK: Horsemeat Found in UK Canned Beef

Source: the BBC

The product tested was found to contain between 1% and 5% horsemeat

The canned beef had been manufactured in Romania

The canned beef had been manufactured in Romania

Horsemeat has been found in tinned beef that has been on sale in discount stores in the UK, the Food Standards Agency said.

Horse DNA was found during routine testing by Lincolnshire County Council trading standards officers.

Officials said the Food Hall Sliced Beef in Rich Gravy had been sold in branches of Home Bargains and Quality Save.

The affected batch has been withdrawn from sale.

An FSA spokesman said: “If you have this product stored, you are advised to return it to where you bought it.”

The affected products have a best before date of January 2016 and a batch code of 13.04.C.

They were manufactured in Romania in January.

‘Disappointed’ with findings

The product tested was found to contain between 1% and 5% horsemeat, but did not contain any of the veterinary painkiller bute.

A spokesperson for TJ Morris, which trades as Home Bargains, said it withdrew the product as soon as the company was made aware traces of horsemeat had been found.

“We are disappointed with these findings,” said the spokesperson.

“The factory we and other retailers use for this product has the highest level of UK food standards accreditation – British Retail Consortium Grade A.

“We have since had other batches of the same product tested, which were found to contain no traces of horsemeat.”

UK Warned of Another Horsemeat Scandal as Food Fraud Rises

Source: by as published on The Guardian

“There were 1,380 reported cases of food fraud in 2012, up by two-thirds since 2010…”

horse-meat-scandelBudget cuts coupled with a two-thirds rise in reported food fraud have increased the risks of another horsemeat scandal, according to a National Audit Office (NAO) report that is highly critical of government changes weakening food controls.

The cuts in testing also led to a loss of intelligence information, meaning “the government failed to identify the possibility of adulteration of beef products with horsemeat despite indications of heightened risk”, the NAO says.

It questions whether there will be sufficient capacity to respond to future incidents, given the dramatic decline since 2010 in the number of public analysts and laboratories capable of detecting food fraud. Just 29 public analysts remain out of 40, and four out of a total of 13 labs have closed in the last two years.

The watchdog’s inquiry has found a dramatic increase in food fraud, with one in six products failing tests for the presence of undeclared species in 2012. But until testing was ramped up after Irish authorities found horsemeat in beef in January 2013, no tests for undeclared horse in food had been conducted in England since 2003.

There were 1,380 reported cases of food fraud in 2012, up by two-thirds since 2010, as the recession and the rising cost of raw materials created the incentives for it. But over the same period, the number of food samples officially tested for safety and authenticity in England fell by a quarter as local authority funding suffered deep cuts.

The watchdog’s strongest criticism is aimed at the impact of the coalition’s “bonfire of the quangos”. It took overall responsibility for food policy away from the Food Standards Agency and divided it between the FSA, the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) and the Department of Health (DH).

Defra is now in charge of checking that food is what it claims to be, DH looks after nutrition policy, and the FSA is left with food safety. The result was “confusion” when the horsemeat crisis hit.

The report said confusion continues and must be tackled either by bringing food back under one entity or by clarifying how the new structure could work.

The Consumers’ Association added its weight to the call for restoring powers over food controls to the FSA.

Executive director, Richard Lloyd, said: “The scandal exposed a web of confusion, which is why we have been calling for the government to move responsibilities for labelling and standards back to the FSA.”

Tim Lang, professor of food policy at London’s City University also believes there is need for an urgent review of the changes made. “The scandal exposed how little knowledge even the most powerful companies have of what goes in to their food. The system put into place after mad cow disease has failed because central and local government enforcement has been quietly dismantled.”

The head of the NAO, Amyas Morse, said: “The January 2013 horsemeat incident has revealed a gap between what citizens expect of controls over their food and the effectiveness of those controls in reality. The government needs to remove the confusion and improve its understanding of potential food fraud and how intelligence is shared.”

Labour’s shadow environment secretary, Maria Eagle, called for a review of “the chaotic structure of food control put in place after the election”.

“It’s clear from this report that David Cameron’s botched departmental reorganisation created confusion about who was responsible. Added to this confusion was the complete failure of ministers to take seriously the possibility that meat was wrongly being passed off as beef, despite clear indications of an increased risk that this was taking place.”

A Defra spokesperson said: “The FSA and Defra are working together to tackle food fraud and address any confusion about our respective roles. Defra is responsible for policy on food labelling while the FSA is responsible for enforcement, including responding to incidents.”

UK Horsemeat Scandal: Two Arrested Over Fraud

Source: Multiple

“Regardless of Location, Horse Slaughter is a Magnet for Criminal Activity”

Two men have been arrested on suspicion of fraud as part of an investigation by British police into the horsemeat scandal, it was revealed yesterday.

City of London Police said that since launching an inquiry in May it has held two men on suspicion of conspiracy to defraud and interviewed a further two men under caution.

The force said it has only released details now due to “operational reasons” and would not say when the men were arrested or reveal their nationalities.

Detective Chief Superintendent Oliver Shaw said: “This is an extremely complex investigation covering a number of jurisdictions and a variety of businesses.

“We are working closely with police forces, other law enforcement agencies and regulators to determine whether horsemeat being used in a range of meat products was deliberate and coordinated criminal activity.”

City of London Police was asked to work with the Food Standards Agency (FSA) as part of its inquiry into the scandal.

It reviewed evidence from law enforcement agencies in Europe and the UK, as well as from the FSA.

The force launched an investigation in May and said it made the arrests “during the initial stages” of the inquiry. Officers have also carried out searches at businesses and homes in the UK.

Last month MPs condemned the slow pace of the national investigation into the scandal, with no prosecutions six months after the problem was first identified.

The Commons Environment, Food and Rural Affairs Committee said authorities in both the UK and Ireland – where horse DNA was first discovered in processed beef products – had yet to acknowledge the scale of the illegal activity involved.

It said: “The evidence we received from retailers and food processors in the UK and Ireland suggests a complex, highly organised network of companies trading in and mislabelling frozen and processed meat or meat products in a way that fails to meet  specifications and that is fraudulent and illegal.

“We are concerned at the failure of authorities in both the UK and Ireland to acknowledge the extent of this and to bring prosecutions.

“We are dismayed at the slow pace of investigations and would like assurance that prosecutions will be mounted where there is evidence of fraud or other illegal activity.”

The FSA has already agreed to an independent review of its response to the scandal.

‘Bute’ in Horse Meat Contaminated Foods and the Recall/Withdrawal Obligation

Source: CMS Cameron McKenna , Sarah Hanson and Jessica Burt of the Association of Corporate Counsel

…thresholds could not be identified and therefore no maximum residue limits established.

PhenylbutazoneThe European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) and European Medicines Agency (EMA) have published a joint statement (click here) on the risk assessment of the veterinary medicine phenylbutazone, known as ‘bute’, in the context of recent fraudulent practices that has resulted in beef-based products being contaminated with horse meat.

The main risks on residues of bute have been confirmed as; idiosyncratic blood dyscrasias and genotoxic/carcinogenic potential. Although the risk of carcinogenicity to humans from exposure was considered very low based on the available experimental data on organ toxicity and carcinogenicity, as well as on the low exposure levels and the infrequent exposure to bute from horse meat or adulterated beef-based products, thresholds could not be idenitfied and therefore no maximum residue limits established.

Exposure to bute from horse meat consumed as such or present in beef-based products was assessed on the basis of limited monitoring data provided by 19 Member States and of conservative assumptions. Up to 144 and up to 36 800 individuals per 100 million could be potentially exposed across countries and age groups each day. On a given day, the probability of a consumer being both susceptible to developing aplastic anaemia and being exposed to bute was estimated to range approximately from 2 in a trillion to 1 in 100 million. Measures proposed to further minimise the risk included strengthening of the horse passport system, harmonised monitoring of bute and its main metabolite and better reporting of monitoring of veterinary drug residues and other substances across the EU.

The Food Safety Requirements set out under the General Food Regulation 178/2002 deem food ‘unsafe’ if it is injurious to health or unfit for human consumption with regard to normal conditions of use and information provided to the consumer. There is also the rebuttable assumption that where any affected food is part of a batch then the entirety of that batch is similarly affected. Reference is made to ‘probable’ short or long term effects on health and subsequent generations, ‘probable’ cumulative toxic effects. The reference to ‘probable’ applies the Precautionary Principle. In this context the Precautionary Principle states that where there is scientific uncertainty plus the possibility of harm to health, measures necessary to ensure ‘high levels of health protection’ should be applied. However, critically, this should also be proportionate and no more restrictive of trade as necessary to provide a high level of health protection.

The responsibility for food business operators to initiate a withdrawal applies where there is ‘reason to believe’ that a food is not in compliance with these safety requirements and requires an immediate initiation of procedures to withdraw. Where the food has reached the consumer there is an obligation to effectively and accurately inform the consumers of the reason for its withdrawal. Only where other measures are not sufficient to achieve a high level of health protection is a recall specifically required. However, at the level of a perishable food product and a contamination of this kind, the very task of informing consumers would result in a de facto recall. It would ordinarily be deeply unattractive for a food business to seek to differentiate between the two.

Earlier this month, Asda recalled all batch codes of its ‘Smart Price’ Corned Beef because ‘very low levels’ of bute found in some batches of the product. The level of bute found were reportedly ‘considerably lower’ than the highest levels found in carcasses (the highest level found was 1900ppb). Nevertheless, traces of the medicine were identified, consumers informed and a recall instigated of this clearly demarcated product.

In contrast, also this month, some 50,000 tonnes of meat supplied by two Dutch trading companies and sold as beef across Europe since January 2011 that may have contained horsemeat are being recalled where possible. 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 Netherlands Food & Consumer Product Safety Authority has been reported as stating there was no evidence that the meat was a threat to human health, and it is likely that much of the meat has already been consumed. The recall is being carried out on the premise that the products only ‘may’ contain traces of horsemeat (and so presumably the possibility there is the possibility of small amounts of bute present.) Some of the suspect meat was also exported to Germany, France and Spain, where authorities have been alerted. The Food Standards Agency in the UK has confirmed that a small number of UK companies may have received products from the Dutch wholesalers. Due to the timescale involved it is likely that UK buyers have processed the meat and sold it on to consumers in which case they, in turn, are obliged to inform their own customers. In this instance, there should come a point where an appropriate risk assessment on the facts and reference to the requirement of being no more restrictive of trade as necessary to provide a high level of health protection does require an appropriate distinction between ‘withdrawal’ and ‘recall’ as anticipated in the Regulation.

Veterinary Drug Bute found in Asda Corned Beef

Source: of the UK’s The Guardian

Supermarket withdraws 340g tins of Smart Price Corned Beef after discovery of phenylbutazone
Click Image to View Video

Click Image to View Video

Supermarket chain Asda said on Tuesday that it was recalling its range of budget corned beef after low levels of the veterinary pain killer phenylbutazone – known as bute – were detected.

The Food Standards Agency said the retailer had confirmed that the drug was detected in 340g tins of Asda Smart Price Corned Beef that had previously been found to contain traces of horsemeat.

The discovery is the first confirmation that products containing the drug have been sold in the UK after concerns were raised in the wake of the horsemeat scandal. Previously, eight horse carcasses slaughtered in the UK for consumption tested positive for bute, but the meat was exported.

Bute is banned from the human food chain as it could pose a health risk. But the FSA said the risk to people who had eaten products containing contaminated horse meat was low.

Asda said the affected product, which had been withdrawn from sale in March when the horsemeat was detected, contained “very low levels of bute”, registering four parts per billion. It urged customers to return tins to their nearest store: “Although there is a very low health risk, we are recalling this product. This simply means that we ask anyone who has tinned Smart Price Corned Beef (340g) in their cupboards at home to bring it back into store for a full refund.”

The retailer said it was also withdrawing 340g tins of its Chosen By You corned beef as a precaution as they were made in the same factory as the contaminated products.

“We want you to have complete confidence in the food you buy at Asda and we are happy to refund any product you’re not 100% happy with,” it said. The FSA said no other Asda products were thought to be affected.

Asda claimed to have taken “an extremely cautious approach since the very beginning” and had carried out more than 700 tests, “moving swiftly to remove any products” when they had any concerns. “The FSA has reassured us that the quantities we’ve found pose a low risk to human health.”

The FSA‘s chief medical officer, Dame Sally Davies, said the levels of contamination would be too low to have any significant impact on anyone who had consumed the affected meat. “Phenylbutazone, known as bute, is a commonly used medicine in horses. It is also prescribed to some patients who are suffering from a severe form of arthritis,” she said.

The levels of bute previously found in horse carcasses meant a person would have to eat up to 600 burgers, containing 100% horsemeat, every day to come close to consuming a human’s daily dose of the drug, she said.”In patients who have been taking phenylbutazone as a medicine, there can be serious side effects but these are rare. It is extremely unlikely that anyone who has eaten horsemeat containing bute will experience one of these side effects.”

Horse carcasses in the UK are required to have a negative bute test before they can enter the food chain but the Guardian discovered in February that two carcasses which tested positive for bute in 2012 were not reported to the FSA for up to seven months.

Asda’s announcement came as a new study revealed that the government appeared to have averted a crisis of confidence in the meat industry by telling consumers the horsemeat scandal posed no health risk. A poll of more than 8,000 people found that few people were changing their shopping habits because of the scandal.

4 Ways Horse Meat Proves a Zombie Apocalypse Can Happen

Source: by Josh Hrala as published in

“Sorry, I just couldn’t help myself, this was far too good not to share” ~ R.T.

Zombie HorseBad news, horse and food fans — European burger processing plants have been combining your two favorite things and calling it “beef.” And don’t start bragging about your superior beef industry, America — despite increased scrutiny over imported beef, it is still entirely possible for a dead horse to sneak into your hamburger at some point, and when it does, it will bring a world-ending zombie outbreak with it.

What’s that? You have no idea how horse meat and a zombie wasteland could possibly be related? Well, keep reading.

#4. They Both Started With Corporations

In Resident Evil, the Umbrella Corporation created the zombie virus as a weapon in biological warfare. The virus then spread to the outside world because of lab failures and experiments gone wrong. In the case of the horse meat scandal, there are multiple corporations implicated, and all of them are pointing their slimy fingers at third-party meat suppliers. But it’s really the same story: A big company with lots of loose strands releases some bad meat/zombie-inducing pathogens into the world. And in both cases, all an outbreak would really require is one dubious employee at the right level of infrastructure to go lip-wigglingly bananas.

#3. The Contamination Spread Through Crappy “Restaurants”

n Zombieland, one of the first things we learn is that patient zero (the person who started the outbreak) got the undead-itis from eating a gas station burger contaminated with mad cow disease, presumably before he or she could succumb to the hepatitis normally associated with meat you buy at a gas station.

Meanwhile, in the horse meat saga, it turns out IKEA was selling Swedish meatballs to their customers that were supposed to be beef and pork but were actually the ground-up birthday wishes of heartbroken little girls. Then, we found out that horseflesh was also being served at British Taco Bells, which is actually better than the fingernails and roach husks they normally serve.

So, terrible food bought from less-than-reputable places (at least from a food service standpoint) can easily carry some kind of pathogen and go undetected. Let’s say Banana Sandwich, our crazy employee from the previous entry, inserts the G-virus into some horse meat and sends it out the door. It could pass through IKEA and Taco Bell even more quickly than Taco Bell typically passes through a person, spreading like wildfire among citizens who care about their health just enough to buy food from a pretend Mexican restaurant and a furniture store.

#2. We Can’t Stop the Contamination

In films like Zombieland, Day of the Dead, and Resident Evil, we never see the zombie contamination effectively contained in any way. We just see Woody Harrelson bludgeoning ghouls with a banjo, and he can’t be expected to be available 24/7. The bottom line is, it’s difficult to contain something if you don’t even know where and how it started.

And after two months, nobody has one damn idea where the horse meat scourge came from. One Swedish food manufacturer blamed their supplier after discovering that their frozen lasagnas were 100 percent horse meat, but even the suppliers have suppliers, and good luck getting any of those guys to come forward. We’ll have to either wait for the ghosts of the slaughtered horses to materialize and point their hooves toward the source of the mystery or get the lady from Bones to track down where all the horse bodies are buried. Neither one seems likely to happen anytime soon.

#1. We’re Probably All Contaminated Already

Even after a dozen European countries got involved in the investigation, the horse meat scandal is hardly front page news anymore. The duplicitous meat showed up in Tesco, the third-largest retailer in the world, and people are still going there to buy beef. To compare, would Americans stop buying food from Walmart if we knew horse meat was being sold there as hamburgers? We can’t type “no” hard enough. Millions have probably eaten horse meat by now.

Now imagine that the horse meat had been laced with whatever rapidly mutating zombie virus Banana Sandwich stole from his manager’s office. A huge chunk of the population would already be infected with shambling corpse disease, and it wouldn’t take long before they ate/infected twice as many more.

Hence, horsemeat = zombie outbreak = we are all screwed.

Enjoy your day.

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Horse Meat Found in Six Scottish Schools

Source: By , Scottish Correspondent for The Telegraph

PARENTS of children at an Edinburgh primary school have reacted angrily after a batch of frozen mince was found to contain between one and five per cent horse meat.

EU HorsemeatSix schools received the same batch of mince, and it is not yet known whether it was served to pupils.

The city council confirmed the discovery after testing meat taken last month from the shared kitchen of Pirniehall and St David’s primary schools.

The contaminated product was also supplied to Oxgangs and Craigroyston primaries and Braidburn and Forthview secondaries.

A letter has been sent to parents of pupils at each of the schools, advising them of the test results and reassuring them that there was “no risk to health from consuming horse meat”.

Cllr Cathy Fullerton, vice convener of education, said: “It’s very important to emphasise that there is no risk whatsoever to people’s health from consuming horse meat, but obviously we all want to be certain that we know exactly what we are eating.

“This is why the council chose to seek extra assurance that our external suppliers were not providing any products containing horsemeat by carrying out our own testing.

“Parents can be reassured that we have taken absolutely the correct course of action in immediately making sure there is none of this frozen mince remaining in school kitchens.”

Food at the schools is procured by a public-private partnership (PPP) contractor, which sourced the mince form the food wholesaler 3663. It recalled all batches of the product on March 8.

One parent of a child at the Pirniehall and St David’s campus said schools must know where their meat was coming from.

Aga Perkins, 30, who is self employed, added: “I think it’s disgusting and I’m certainly going to be speaking to someone about this.

“I know this is a nationwide problem but schools must know where the food is coming from, they can’t just blame suppliers.”

Leila Fawcus, 35, a council worker, added: “This makes me so glad my girls have always had a packed lunch.

“It’s disappointing because the schools always said they hadn’t been affected. I don’t think people will lose trust in the council though, as it’s the suppliers.”

Les Vernon, 30, said the schools had been “straight about it”, adding: “It’s probably been going on for years and it falls back to the government.”

Claire Baker, Labour’s rural affairs spokesman, said the SNP held a “hastily convened” summit on school meals recently but there had been no action since.

She added: “The Scottish Government must take action to ensure school meals are balanced in a fairer way than the current weighting that sees price valued three times more than quality.

“Rather than have an open and honest debate over this scandal, the Cabinet Secretary (Richard Lochhead) is presiding over a growing food crisis that he is failing to control.”

Alison Johnstone, the Green MSP, said the revelation would worry parents and proved the need for greater investment and increased traceability in publicly-procured meals.

“The council’s website claims that it uses local suppliers for meat, so it is extremely important we are told what has gone wrong,” she added.

“I have real concerns about the way our schools have moved away from real meals cooked in proper kitchens to ready meals heated up in microwaves.

“It’s also hard to have confidence when the many of our schools are supplied by massive companies who describe themselves as strategic outsourcing providers rather than caterers, and whose main motive is profit.”

The council has been carrying out tests on meat products supplied to schools, residential homes and other local authority establishments since February 14 under the direction of the Food Standards Agency as part of its UK-wide survey.

A spokesman said all but one of the 85 samples tested so far were negative. Last month, traces of horse DNA were found in a frozen burger in a school kitchen in North Lanarkshire.

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Irish Horse Smuggler Talks About Drugging Animals Before Illegal Slaughter


“But to stimulate them and get them on their feet again, you’d give them certain cortisone and bute”

Horse Meat KillsTHE HORSEMEAT SCANDAL continues to grow legs with fresh revelations that a smuggling conspiracy has been running for years across Ireland and the UK.

BBC Northern Ireland’s Spotlight programme uncovered details about the criminal activity and reporter Jennifer O’Leary spoke with one man who claimed to be involved in a gang.

The activities led to horsemeat that was never fit for human consumption entering the food chain. One of the smuggling routes is believed to have started in Ireland but it is still unclear where all this horsemeat has landed.

The animals were exported through Belfast.

The insider told the BBC that sellers knew why their horses were being bought.

“They did know they were going to a factory but they thought they were going for dog food.”

He also revealed that forged documentation, bogus microchips and stimulating drugs were used in the process.

Those involved would insert bogus microchips under the skin of the horses, according to the gang member. Many of the creatures were also given drugs to make them appear healthier.

“Some of them weren’t in the best condition,” he said. “But to stimulate them and get them on their feet again, you’d give them certain cortisone and bute.

“If a horse had a heartbeat and could walk, he would stand up on the lorry until he got to England.”

Some of the horses were delivered to the Redline Abattoir in Chesire which is being investigated by the Food Standards Agency over “horse passport matters”.

The firm’s parent group say they have never knowingly slaughtered an animal with false documentation. It also insists that hundreds of horses have been turned away from the abattoir because of inadequate passports.

Passport Database

Meanwhile, the suggestion of a national passport database in Ireland has been met with some scepticism by those in the industry.

Speaking to Morning Ireland, the director of one of the bodies approved to issue horse passports said that although the plan is worthwhile, it is also incomplete.

Tom Reed of Irish Warmblood Stud said, “What is being proposed is a band-aid so the Department can look like it is doing something.”

He believes there is an opportunity now – because of the ongoing food industry crisis – to take steps that would put Ireland in the lead within the EU on this issue. And to ensure a stable, transparent and safe food chain.

The organisation would like to see just one body issue one type of passport for horses which would include an image of the animal. It has also called for bute audits across the industry.

The Irish Cattle and Sheep Association (ICSA) has urged the authorities to seek prosecutions over the horsemeat controversy.

President Eddie Punch said that processors had “obviously made mistakes” but also pointed blame towards retailers.

“Supermarkets say they are shocked…yet surely they didn’t believe they could sell burgers for the cheap price they were selling them for?”

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