Tuesday 23 October 2018 02:55:52 AM

Ritchie Says Public Must Have Confidence in Food Quality
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SDLP MP for South Down Margaret Ritchie has called for immediate action to restore public faith when they purchase meat, following the recent horsemeat scandal.

She said: “I have tabled a series of parliamentary questions, pushing the UK government to address the horsemeat contamination scandal and restore the public’s faith that what they are eating is what is stated on the product label. Regardless of potential health risks, people should know exactly what food they are eating and giving to their family.

South Down MP Margaret Ritchie.

South Down MP Margaret Ritchie.

“Thankfully, as confirmed by the chief medical officer, it appears that the incidents of horse meat contamination reported thus far pose no public health risk but given the serious shortcomings that recent incidents have exposed there is no guarantee that future contaminations will not put the public at risk.

“I have asked the Secretary of State for Health to verify what the FSA’s testing procedures are in the UK and whether they endorse the test procedures carried out by the Food Standards Authority of Ireland, who were first to detect the contaminated meat. It is also important that where there is criminal involvement, as has been alleged, that the authorities seek convictions. This is necessary to protect consumers and food producers alike.

“This scandal has demonstrated that we do not have an adequate regime for tracking food provenance throughout the food supply chain. Given the complexity and geographically dispersed nature of these supply chains it is vital that the UK government introduces a system that is fit for purpose.

“Through my position on the EFRA Committee I will continue to press the British government to take such steps. Robust action is necessary to protect our producers, the vital agri-food sector and also to give consumers a renewed confidence when they buy food in the supermarket,” added Ms Ritchie.