by JAMES MEIKLE, FELICITY LAWRENCE and PATRICK WINTOUR
Cross-posted from The Guardian
Scotland Yard has been asked by the food standards watchdog to investigate if there is a criminal element to the horsemeat scandal – as the food industry prepares to test every processed beef product line following evidence adulteration has spread from burgers to lasagne.
The Food Standards Agency (FSA) says information so far “points either to gross negligence or deliberate contamination in the food chain” and David Heath, the food and farming minister has said there is “every probability” criminality was involved.
The Met confirmed on Friday that it has met with the FSA. Owen Paterson, the environment secretary, is holding an emergency meeting with heads of meat retailers and suppliers in London on Saturday. “I fear it may be a conspiracy with international implications,” he said.
Food businesses have been told to have test results on all their products with the FSA by next Friday but Paterson is expected to tell MPs in a statement on Monday that some suppliers have been complaining to departmental officials that they have come under pressure from supermarket suppliers to cut corners.
Hospital food, school meals and baby food being tested amid fear of ‘conspiracy with international implications’
Schools have also been warned by the Department for Education to check their food suppliers and Number 10 admitted it could not rule out that horsemeat may have been served in hospitals. At least one baby food manufacturer has ordered emergency tests but said it was confident in the security of its supply chain.
UK authorities, who were working with the Garda and government in Ireland, have asked French police to investigate particular contamination at Comigel, the French plant responsible for producing Findus lasagne found to contain up to 100% horse DNA. Ministers has also asked the EU’s law enforcement agency Europol for help. Inquiries since the scare first broke last month originally centred on Ireland, Britain and suppliers in Poland. Horse DNA has also been found in products in Sweden and Spain.
Mary Creagh, Labour’s shadow environment minister, wants the Serious Organised Crime Agency (SOCA) to be involved. In a letter to environment secretary Owen Patterson, she said: “I have been given information about British companies who may potentially be involved in the illegal horsemeat trade. I am keen to share this information with the police to ensure that a full investigation can be made into any criminal activity.”
The investigations into possible criminality are thought to involve not only what has happened at factories and slaughterhouses but the wider pan-European horse trade. Animal welfare charities have long warned that lack of supervision in the transport of live animals has meant there is illegal activity. Continue reading at Guardian.co.uk >>
This has been a long time coming. Finally what we have been telling anyone who would listen is being exposed.
The EU has been lobbied and warned, who have palmed horse advocates off with passport systems and equine documentation forms that are easily forged if they exist at all or with the right horse.
The Int’l Fund for Horses began its campaign in 2008 and were later joined by concerned citizens and horse lovers of other countries as the word spread. None of the governments lobbied including the US would allow a ban on horse slaughter and the horse meat trade. Not only that, but State politicians in the US are working to return horse slaughter for human consumption to US soil. This is highly reprehensible and totally irresponsible.
Maybe now the right action will be taken. For people who like to eat horse meat — so what, we say. It is not like there is nothing else available for them to eat.
— 100% horse meat found in UK frozen lasagne
— No honor in horse slaughter or drug documentation system it uses
— Shocking neglect of horses revealed at abattoir amid row over horse meat burgers
— Traces of horse meat found in burgers