By Joanna Gough
The Scottish Green Party is calling for more rigorous testing of the processed food industry after the recent revelations regarding horse and pig meat being found in beef-burgers. Tesco, Lidl, Aldi and Iceland have all been caught up in the scandal after it emerged traces of equine DNA had been found in their value burgers.
Alison Johnstone, Green MSP for Lothian is now calling for food processors to take action.
Ms Johnstone said “We are placing our diet in the hands of food processors more than ever before and we need to be able to trust companies not to take short cuts and to be clear about what’s in our food.
“While horse meat in burgers is culturally shocking, I think people would be astounded by some of the suspect and unnecessary ingredients in our everyday food and the impacts on our health and on obesity levels.
“My strong feeling is that this is just the tip of the iceberg and over the coming months I intend to work with food campaigners to shine more of a light on the good and the bad in a food industry that we all rely on.”
Ms Johnstone’s comments come after The ABP Food Group, the company who have been accused of supplying the burgers, came under investigation by health and agriculture authorities in the UK and Ireland. Burgers supplied by the company have been found to contain up to 29% horse meat.
The ABP food group include Silvercrest Foods in Ireland and Dalepak Hambleton in Yorkshire. A third company, Ireland-based Liffey Meat, have also been found to be supplying products which contain traces of horse DNA.
Ten million burgers have been taken off of shelves as a result of the scandal and the UK’s Food Standards Agency (FSA) is at this time considering whether legal action should be taken against any of the companies involved.
Experts are saying there are no reasonable explanations for how the horse meat could have entered the food chain.
Professor Alan Reilly, head of the Food Safety Authority of Ireland (FSAI) said: “Whilst there is a plausible explanation for the presence of pig DNA in these products due to the fact that meat from different animals is processed in the same meat plants, there is no clear explanation at this time for the presence of horse DNA in products emanating from meat plants that do not use horse meat in their production process.”
However Professor Reilly insists there are no health risks to eating horse meat.
The ABP Food Group is the largest beef exporter to Continental Europe. They have now vowed to adopt strict DNA testing of their products to prevent another scandal.
An ABP spokesman said. “It is vital that the integrity of the supply chain is assured and we are committed to restoring consumer confidence.”