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Main focus of Friday, February 15, 2013

Horsemeat scandal spreads

Supermarket chains in the UK, France and Germany have removed frozen lasagne from their shelves. (© dapd)

In response to the scandal over horsemeat being sold as beef, the states of the EU plan to take a decision on the introduction of Europe-wide genetic tests on beef products this Friday. Horsemeat has been detected in frozen foods in several states in recent days. Commentators say "Horsegate" has revealed a new breach of consumer trust by the greedy food industry and call for more controls and greater transparency.

Savon Sanomat - Finland

Avarice is a health risk

Particularly with horsemeat there is a high risk that meat that is not suitable for consumption finds its way on to the market, the liberal daily Savon Sanomat fears, and calls for more quality controls: "You don't have to look long for the answer to why horsemeat [in food] has been covered up. For the British it's taboo to eat horsemeat. Elsewhere in Europe money is the reason. Horsemeat is 25 to 30 percent cheaper than beef. So greed is behind the lies about the origin of the meat. ... In the worst case greed results in meat that is not fit for consumption landing on the market. This risk is particularly high with horsemeat. Trotters and race horses are pumped with so much cortisone and antibiotics that their flesh is not edible. ... This is why the quality tests are more important that the DNA tests proposed by the EU Commission [for recognising from which animal the meat came]." (15/02/2013)

Libération - France

Food industry needs transparency

According to the findings of the French government, the company Spanghero is responsible for the horsemeat scandal because it knowingly sold horsemeat as beef. The firm has been stripped of its meat processing licence with immediate effect, French Agriculture Minister Stéphane Le Foll announced on Thursday. The left-liberal daily Libération calls for more transparency for consumers: "In the junk food empire, everyone is irresponsible. As for the European and national institutions that did nothing to prevent this little mess, we are still waiting for minimum regulations that will allow consumers to know whether they're eating pork or beef, and where the ingredients come from. 'Horsegate' doesn't pose any health risk to speak of. But nonetheless, the ease with which this fraud was committed demonstrates the appalling lack of controls on the part of the states of the European Union, and the de facto complicity of everyone working in the sector. It's up to them now to restore consumer confidence." (15/02/2013)

Blog EUROPP - United Kingdom

New blow for consumers and meat industry

The British police arrested three men on Thursday on suspicion of fraud in connection with the horsemeat scandal. Even if there is apparently no danger to consumers, the affair is yet another blow for the industry, agro-food marketing expert Wim Verbeke writes on the London School of Economics' EUROPP blog: "The scandal is particularly unfortunate for those who mean well by our food provision, for those who work hard defending some room for meat on consumers' plates, and for those who still take consumers and their own business seriously. The traceability in the food chain, which was established about 10 years ago, following problems in the beef chain, now must once again prove its usefulness. Preferably authorities need to do this with fast, effective and decisive measures to lift the concerns of consumers who still manage to appreciate meat, and to reassure those with good intentions involved in the food chain." (14/02/2013)

Politiken - Denmark

Fear of horsemeat is pure hysteria

The horsemeat scandal has triggered an unwarranted wave of hysteria among consumers, the left-liberal daily Politiken comments, saying that people need to see the situation with a healthy dose of common sense: "We see reports in which consumers say they felt sick or felt like they would choke on the meat. ... We consumers need to get over the horsemeat hysteria. Because it doesn't automatically make you sick. But as with all other kinds of meat, fish and poultry consumers should be adequately informed about the contents and it should be correctly labelled. This could then lead to two insights: that good food - grown and produced under optimal conditions - can't be produced cheaply in the long term. And that cheap food may also contain horsemeat." (15/02/2013)

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