Horse meat investigation progress
There has been some progress in July but the final report of the Elliott Review has been delayed. The Food Standards Agency (FSA) announced the results of the fourth quarterly report of industry testing of horse in meat products. It also reported the second round of the EU testing of undeclared horse in processed beef products. The latest Industry testing report includes 3,395 new results for beef products, and 2,466 results for other (non-beef) meat products for the period from January 2014. A total of 50,876 results for horse meat/DNA in meat products have been submitted by industry to the FSA since 15 February 2013, based on immunoassay and DNA based methods. Of these, 47 were positive samples. No new positive results at or above the 1% threshold level have been reported since the first quarterly report in June 2013. The latest EU testing round of 150 processed meat sample samples (e.g. ready meals containing beef, canned beef products, beef sausages, beef burgers, minced beef and beef meat balls) were taken by 24 local authorities (between 21 April and 16 June 2014) and reported no traces of horse meat at or above the 1% threshold as determined by DNA analysis. Some samples were analysed for other meat species (other than horse) and of these 3 minced beef samples from butchers contained other meats at 1-5% as a result of cross-contamination and one sausage sample contained chicken above the level indicated on the label (which is now being investigated). Meanwhile Professor Chris Elliott’s final report reviewing the integrity and assurance of British food supply networks is still awaited. The Government re-shuffle on the 15th July has meant there is a new Secretary of State for DEFRA, Elizabeth Truss MP, who announced the delay on the 17th July but offered no explanation. Professor Elliot submitted his report in June with a number of recommendations to address the gaps in tackling food crime. Meanwhile the Food Industry has drafted revised standards (e.g. BRC) to include systems to verify authenticity and effective traceability of raw materials. Bio-Check believes the Industry need for testing and vigilance in this area will continue given the perceived threats to the supply chain.