Friday 24 November 2017 04:42:23 PM

Ritchie Says Joined Up Approach Will Stop Contamination
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South Down MP Margaret Ritchie (SDLP) has welcomed the Secretary of State for Health’s response to her parliamentary question confirming that there have been no reports of further meat contamination in other species.

Speaking ahead of tomorrow’s EFRA committee hearing, which Ms Ritchie sits on, she said: “I was re-assured to find out from a response to a parliamentary question that there have been no reports of further contamination of other meats but the Department of Health and the FSA need to ensure rigorous testing is in place to avoid a repeat of the horse meat scandal with a different species.

“It is critical that the UK government acts to restore public faith in the food industry and it is encouraging to see that the FSA led testing regime necessary is now underway including tests on the most at-risk products. It must be noted that over 99% of the initial products tested came back as uncontaminated, and that none contained traces of bute but even one mislabelled or contaminated product is one too many.

“It is important that the next two stages of the FSA’s authenticity survey, including a wider range of DNA testing and sampling under the Europe-wide EU Co-ordinated Control Plan, is carried out as quickly as possible. This needs to be comprehensive and determine the full extent and reach of this problem. We must also ensure that contamination is limited to beef products and not other types of meat.

“Our food suppliers and farmers in Northern Ireland operate to the highest standard and it is critical that the government put in place the measures that protect them, and the consumer, from predatory and criminal practices within the food supply chain. Through a series of Parliamentary questions I have sought assurance from the UK government that they are continuing to meet and work with colleagues in the Northern Ireland executive, the EU and the Irish government. A joined-up and inclusive procedure is needed to tackle what appears to be a systemic problem,” added Ms Ritchie.