Monday, 11 February 2013

Forget The EU, We Need A Moratorium on Meat Imports Now

Yesterday I listened to the stuttering and muttering UK environment secretary while he was doing the rounds of the television studios in a desperate attempt to assure us that our food is safe for consumption. 

Why don't I believe him?  Like many others, how can he insist our food is safe if much of it hasn't been tested for 10 years or more?  The main problem is not about criminality and labelling but safety.  What we eat has a far greater effect on our health than moderate smoking or drinking.  

On the Sunday Politics show, when Andrew Neil asked if it was his intention to place a moratorium on meat imports until tests are complete and results prove our food is safe, Owen Paterson mumbled he couldn't do that because the EU regulations forbid it. So the UK government's hands are tied by eurocratic rules.  I assume this also applies to the Scottish Government.

So the health of the nation comes well behind poor EU legislation.  That fact has been blindingly obvious for some years now but it was the first time I witnessed a senior politician voicing it. Food labelling, in certain instances, is dreadful.  I buy 'freshly squeezed' orange juice because it's much easier than peeling and juicing 10 oranges.  Most supermarket labels only state 'a product of the EU'. But I digress, labelling is another post and this one is about whether our food is safe to eat.

As I've said before I stopped buying any form of supermarket meat when the EU refused to introduce a directive for supermarkets to label meat and chicken products which were halal. Having researched the source of imported chicken I decided chicken would only be on my menu if it was from local butcher.  He promises they are UK chickens and not imported and will show the paperwork for their provenance if asked.

Speaking of chickens, Australia have a problem with them and no doubt there is a problem here too as yet to be 'discovered'.

So the story grows, like Topsy and it should be no surprise to those who watch the EU devise their directives.  Food can be moved between EU countries without any checks or balances on the product.  It's the paperwork that matters and, as Richard writes, fraudulent paperwork is easily acquired. (He also has some excellent posts about how meat is transported around the world).

So far we know that the Irish food standards agency discovered horse in meat products produced by an Irish company and sold to the UK and other European countries.  Nobody really has a clue how long the deception has been and only now it's slowly coming to light that meat products on UK shelves involve France, Holland, Luxembourg, Cyprus and Romania.  Now France is suggesting that what was analysed as horsemeat is actually donkey meat which has come from a country not known for its stringent food quality laws.

That fact in itself should surely have politicians insisting a moratorium should be applied immediately to all meat imports.  France and the US were quick enough banning British beef when the 'mad cow disease' outbreaks occurred here and many Scottish farmers went out of business.  

We have a right to be protected if EU law is found wanting and it is seriously wanting in the case of food regulation.

One fact I can predict - regardless of the outcome of government or retailer testing, our weekly food basket will increase in price.  The supermarkets will ensure their customers pay for their own safety.  The wise will buy from local shops if possible and that only be good for local economies.


JRB said...

Watching Owen Paterson’s pathetic performance yesterday was like watching an action replay of fellow conservative John “Its All Perfectly Safe” Gummer and the BSE scandal all over again.

But this should be a salutary lesson to us all – never buy processed meat – in any shape size or form.
Use your local independent butcher; watch him cut the meat in front of you; demand traceability of its origin.

You may ask what about those on a low income – as a pensioner I’m on a low income – but I have the butcher slice a small piece of meat off a joint and mince it in front of my eyes. To offset any slight increase in piece a just buy a little less – but the quality and taste far outstrips anything a supermarket has to offer.


Crinkly & Ragged Arsed Philosophers said...

Lions fed by donkeys.

Captain Ranty said...

Some people question my distaste for the EU.

This is a prime example. They are undemocratic (Halal for all) and non-transparent (Halal for all) and I remain mystified as to why Wee Eck is so enamoured of this shadowy group.

Vote yes for independence next year and the Scottish system of law goes out of the window. EU law is supreme.

It is also mindless.

Which is the biggest and best reason to say no next year.

Scotland should run, screaming, from the EU, not crawling towards it on their hands and knees, begging for entry.

Independence is right for Scotland, but not at any price. The EU issue will be Salmond's downfall. Mark my words.


Joe Public said...

"Now France is suggesting that what was analysed as horsemeat is actually donkey meat"

The ironic homophone for all of us who've maybe eaten processed meat........

Donkey = Equus asinus asinus

Oldrightie said...

The globalisation of rendered down animal waste and unimaginable DNA will be the death of human existence. If people were to quit the brainwashed habit of supermarket, Common Purpose control, we might survive.

JimS said...

I watched Owen Paterson on Newsnight and it struck me that his performance was caused by the way TV 'journalism' has gone.

You or I would no doubt have responded in a common sense way but the minister has to stay to his brief; he just knows that if he says anything even hinting that the government has a problem with the EU then that will turn into a demand "will that be on David Cameron's list?". The journalist isn't after answers but trying to set traps for the unwary. They really ought to start with a police-style caution!

The BBC has long advocated dear food, it is a constant theme on Radio 4's "Food Programme" and celebrity cooks, after all why shouldn't a retired City trader keep six hens and sell the eggs and still maintain a million- pound life-style? Unless they can spring the "Cameron EU trap" be prepared to see "dear food" being pushed heavily, also of course, "the Cuts" agenda.

As stated elsewhere we are in a "Certificate of Conformity" culture. That only works if the supplier can be trusted, (and if they can be trusted, who needs a certificate?). The EU and this culture has made a nonsense of labelling; bring in an item from outside the EU, 'process it' i.e. wash, crush or pack it and all of a sudden it becomes "produce of the EU".

English Pensioner said...

It is the obsession with the correct paperwork that has led to this situation, and it is not only in the food industry, it is everywhere. As long as the paper trail is satisfactory, all is well, nobody actually looks at or tests the product.
As I pointed out in my blog, the attitude prevailed some fifty years ago when I went to inspect some electronic equipments and was presented with a huge heap of paperwork. When I actually asked to look at the equipment it caused enormous consternation as it was all packed ready for shipment and was just awaiting my signature.
I expect this attitude prevails right across the board, indeed with computerised records, things have probably got worse. How often have you been told that the computer says something, and it must be correct?

Apogee said...

Captain Ranty, completely agree, Sir.
We are in a system where we cannot
protect ourselves with sensible measures because it is seemingly against EU law. But it is also verboten to take action against seeming criminal actions of fraud in
supplying meat where it is not known the source or the product safety. Do we have to wait for a health crisis before we can do anything? We have a setup where the retailer is wholly responsible for the product he sells. So what is the EU input to this, Nothing?
So why do we need the EU at all.
The purpose of the EU appears to be to make any difficult business, downright impossible! But we have to keep paying them. I don't know if this is a protection racket or a form of Ponzi Scheme.

Woodsy42 said...

" how can he insist our food is safe"

Of course it is, it has all the regulatory paperwork with all the correct boxes ticked and approved by the regulators.
What could go wrong with such a system?
If it poisons you it is undoubtably your fault for having some sort of medical condition.

Edward Spalton said...

There are many things in the article and comments with which I entirely agree. I ran my own small firm, supplying ingredients to the animal feed industry. We introduced a system which would not only identify the supplier of each ingredient in a finished product but the batch from each supplier. Of course, we only bought from reputable people anyway, so there was no great advantage to the eventual consumer. Our products were flavours and appetite stimulators for animals. From the pack number, we could trace every ingredient.

I remember explaining our system (originally called BS5750) to a large customer.
That is the system- to which you must add the Single Market, which both Mr Cameron and Mr Salmond think is marvellous.

Once a product has been certified by the EU authorities in a member state, it is in "free circulation" throughout the EU. If the paperwork is in order ITCANNOT BE INSPECTED OR DETAINED AT THE NATIONAL BORDERS.
Ladies who were fitted with defective French breast implants experienced the same effect.

So I think you are being a touch unfair on Owen Paterson who, I understand, would like things to be different. Even if he were Owen McPaterson in independent Holyrood, he would have no choice in the matter if Scotland was in th EU or EEA.

Delphius1 said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Delphius1 said...

As others have said we don't have the power to inspect things because of EU legislation. Our provincial government in Westminster doesn't have the power, these days it just rubber stamps EU rules and can't change any affecting us the voters.

The fact is the EU will enforce to the point of disaster all of its political dogma, even when it produces real-world disasters like the horse meat scandal or the problems with PIP breast implants.

The FSA only have the power to test for health-related issues after the fact. So far no-one has died of horse poisoning, so the FSA has no real teeth in the matter. Its been forced to deal with the problem as a labelling issue only and has quite rightly ordered a rapid series of checks on products that may contain wrongly labelled products.

This is where the EU falls down because its so cocky it can't be wrong and doesn't legislate for failure. Hence the only weapon we have are strongly worded memos to whichever government of whichever country the horse meat came from.

We can try criminal prosecution but I doubt incorrect labelling is considered enough of a crime for an EU arrest warrant.

Basically there's bugger all we can do. The EU is a criminal's playground, where small time crime can earn millions thanks to the open borders and lack of control.

subrosa said...

Jings, thought I'd replied to you yesterday JRB.

As I keep saying too buy from your butcher, buy less and bulk it out with vegetables.

subrosa said...

Clever Crinkly. :)

subrosa said...

I have a similar opinion of the EU as you know Ranty and it's the one thing that makes me hesitant about independence. Mind you the people are slowly waking up to it now so perhaps they may have a say?

Not holding my breath though.

subrosa said...

Another clever comment Joe. :)

subrosa said...

The problem though, OR, is that some areas just don't have butchers or farm shops etc. They've all been put out of business by supermarkets.

CP is partly to blame of course (council officials etc) but it's politicians who are responsible for the dilution of our society.

subrosa said...

That's exactly what happens Jim.

Today I had a look at Manuka honey in the Co-op. Now I expect Manuka honey to be made in Australia as that's the only country which grows the flower. However the jar said 'various EU countries'.

Just by chance I met the local beekeeper who has quite a large business these days and spoke to him. He told me he was often asked for Manuka honey so had started to import it and I'm sure what he produces is top quality. However I said I'd never seen his Manuka honey only his Heather honey and he said at £9.99 it flies off the shelves. He won't deal with supermarkets and only deals with privately owned businesses. I could go on and on as we had an interesting chat but don't want to bore you.

subrosa said...

Good points EP and you're right, it probably is worse these days.

subrosa said...

Exactly Woodsy, the boxes are ticked so our responsibility is done.

subrosa said...

I do realise Owen has no power whatsoever Edward but find it all so pathetic.

subrosa said...

I think you've possibly hit the nail on the head Delphius.

Good to see you and hope you're doing fine.

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