Horsemeat issue discussed at FSA board meeting
Published:  05 March, 2013

Catherine Brown updated Food Standards Agency (FSA) chair Jeff Rooker and the FSA Board on the horsemeat issues at a board meeting held in London this afternoon.

Brown explained how DNA testing had been carried out over the last three weeks in the food industry and told the board that over 6,000 tests had been carried out over six weeks. She said that any businesses found to have beef products containing horse DNA at or above the levels of 1% would have withdrawn the products and tested for the drug bute.

She said, going forward, the FSA was also looking at trace contamination; at what is an acceptable amount and what the public feels is an acceptable amount of cross-contamination. She highlighted that even though manufacturers who process various meats may clean their equipment, it is possible there would be small traces left. “We need to have a better understanding of how consumers see contamination,” she said.

At the meeting Brown also thanked those who had worked hard since the horsemeat news broke.

Brown added that there were lessons to be learned from the incident, but said she was slightly irritated by those with the benefit of hindsight, who implied the FSA was “sleeping on the job” and the issue should have never happened. However, she said that the UK’s European counterparts had also missed the incident until now.

Building consumer confidence in the industry was also a matter of interest highlighted by Brown, who said the incident had led to half of consumers asked by the FSA to say they did not trust processed beef products any more.

Finally, Brown said she hoped to have a report of the incident at the end of April, which will be presented to the Prime Minister. She said: “I hope it will bring to an end this part of the incident.”

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