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Buy local to avoid risk of 'disgusting' import food

By Western Morning News  |  Posted: February 13, 2013

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A Conservative MP wants an emergency ban on importing "disgusting food" amid the horsemeat scandal.

Jacob Rees-Mogg, MP for North East Somerset, said while officials contend that processed food might not be a health risk, the produce is "revolting" in any case.

The condemnation came as MPs urged consumers to buy British produce through high-street butchers to ensure they are not inadvertently eating horsemeat.

Even Environment Secretary Owen Paterson, who has insisted products containing horsemeat are not a health risk, has recommended consumers "buy local" South West produce.

Meanwhile, two meat plants were raided last night under suspicion of passing off horse meat as beef for kebabs and burgers.

The Food Standards Agency (FSA) and police officers entered Peter Boddy slaughterhouse in Todmorden, West Yorkshire, and Farmbox Meats in Llandre in Aberystwyth, West Wales.

In the Commons following an update on the crisis, Mr Rees-Mogg said: "The minister has told us that food regulation is an area of European competence. Some of us may think it an area of European incompetence.

"As a result of European failures, it seems that my constituents are getting disgusting food – whether or not it is a health risk, it is revolting.

"I wonder whether the Secretary of State will consider emergency legislation to allow us to stop importing disgusting food."

Responding, Mr Paterson said: "I look forward to sitting down with him and coming up with a legal definition of 'disgusting food'.

"Let me be more positive and refer to my earlier replies: there is splendid food grown in his part of England, and I would strongly recommend his constituents to buy local."

The crisis was ramped up last week after frozen foods firm Findus announced some of its beef lasagnes were found to have up to 100% horsemeat in them.

On Monday night, supermarket giant Tesco became the latest retailer to drop a major supplier after discovering a range of spaghetti bolognese ready meals contained more than 60% horsemeat.

Mr Paterson yesterday met representatives of supermarkets and food suppliers to discuss the growing scandal of horsemeat in processed products.

The scandal has spread all over the continent as details of the elaborate supply chain in the meat industry emerge.

Meanwhile, Westcountry farmers and butchers moved to reassure consumers over the provenance of local beef supplies.

Cattle breeder Mervyn Rowe, who has a herd with a long pedigree on his 280-acre Tregondale Farm at Menheniot, Cornwall, said beef is supplied directly to the area's butchers and supermarket counters.

Launceston-based butcher Philip Warren is currently buying animals from Mr Rowe and other South West farmers, which are slaughtered and sold locally. Mr Warren said: "With Cornish potatoes and Cornish or other fresh beef, families can enjoy cottage pie or pasties that are better quality and value than anything from a supermarket freezer cabinet."

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