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People in Devon and Cornwall urged to Buy Local as horsemeat fears grow

By Western Morning News  |  Posted: February 13, 2013

Environment Secretary Owen Paterson faced a hostile Commons reception as he updated MPs on the scandal

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MPs have lined up to urge consumers to buy local produce to ensure they are not inadvertently eating horse meat.

The call to "buy British", which could be a boon for the Westcountry's key farming sector, came as the Government sought to allay fears that contaminated meat was being sold in British supermarkets.

Former environment minister Ben Bradshaw, Labour MP for Exeter, said: "I would currently not buy or eat processed beef products, given the Government can give no assurances about what is in it.

"If people want to be confident about the meat they're eating they should buy fresh British meat, preferably local and from a trusted source."

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George Eustice, Conservative MP for Camborne and Redruth, who sits on the influential Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Efra) select committee, said: "There's growing concern about the provenance of meat products. This latest scare over horse meat is the latest in a long line of similar problems. If people want to know for sure where their beef or pork comes from, their best bet is to support their local butcher, who will know where their meat is sourced."

The Westcountry MPs spoke after Conservative MP Anne McIntosh, the chair of the Efra committee, also urged the public to buy their meat locally, and the National Farmers' Union said consumers should look to 100% British produce for confidence.

NFU president Peter Kendall said: "This has never been a farming issue, but it is certainly an issue that farmers will be taking extremely seriously.

"The NFU is working with the industry to uphold the reputation of British farmers who are committed to producing world-class raw ingredients in to the supply chain."

Defra has sought to play down any concerns that the scandal could pose a health risk, saying there is "currently no evidence of a risk to human health" and that the issue concerns fraudulent food labelling instead.

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% horse meat in them.

Horse meat has been found in some burgers stocked by a number of UK supermarket chains including Tesco, Iceland and Lidl.

The National Beef Association yesterday called for more precise labelling of products.

The organisation has now suggested all UK beef should be labelled with the words "United Kingdom origin" printed on its packaging.

Chris Mallon, national director of the NBA, urged consumers to prevent "further cheating" by suppliers by ensuring the beef they purchased was taken exclusively from cattle born, reared and processed in the UK.

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

French consumer safety authorities have said companies from Romania, Cyprus and the Netherlands as well as its own firms were involved.

One theory for the apparent increase in the presence of horse meat in the food chain is new restrictions on using horses on roads in Romania, which have led to a surge in numbers of animals being put down.

Yesterday, under-fire Environment Secretary Owen Paterson faced a hostile reception as he updated MPs on the scandal.

He told Members that unless products had been designated as unsafe by the Food Standards Agency, consumers should not worry.

He also told the Commons it appeared that "criminal activity" had been at the heart of the scandal, adding there would be immediate testing of products across the supply chain – including tests at schools, hospitals and prisons.

The FSA had also reassured him that the products recalled did not present a risk to the public, but consumers who had bought Findus beef lasagnes should return them to the shop they had bought them from as a "precaution".

The food industry is due to announce the results of hundreds of tests by Friday, which should reveal the scale of the scandal in Britain.

Tests are being carried out to ascertain if the drug phenylbutazone – known as bute and which is banned from the human food chain – is in any of the horse meat.

Labour tore into the Government response to the crisis.

Mr Paterson has been criticised for returning to his Shropshire constituency last Friday as the crisis mounted, and was ordered back to London by David Cameron as the Prime Minister orchestrated a cut to the EU budget in Brussels.

Shadow Environment Secretary Mary Creagh accused Mr Paterson of being "incompetent", and dragged back from a "long weekend" in his constituency. The lack of information from the Government had been a "disgrace", Ms Creagh added, telling MPs the British public's confidence in the food chain was "sinking like a stone".

Mr Paterson said: "At the moment this appears to be an issue of fraud and mis-labelling, but if anything suggests the need for changes to surveillance and enforcement in the UK we will not hesitate to make those changes. Once we have established the full facts of the current incidents and identified where enforcement action can be taken, we will want to look at the lessons that can be learned from this episode."

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  • jimjams2011  |  February 13 2013, 10:54PM

    Since all this I've started supporting my local farm shop and butcher. It doesn't surprise me that now the supermarkets have the monopoly they have started to take the mickey. 100% is not a contamination, it is the product.

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  • EdnaFruitcake  |  February 13 2013, 10:26PM

    My doctor said I have to watch what I eat. So does anyone know when horse racing is on channel 4 these days,

  • omnivore23  |  February 13 2013, 7:00PM

    So he says to me "wot you want on your burger omni?" So I says "a tenner each way"

  • omnivore23  |  February 13 2013, 6:21PM

    Blimey Doreen Did you stitch up your family to environmental health and the FSA as well ?

  • EdnaFruitcake  |  February 13 2013, 6:12PM

    What is the hidden food that is so dangerous that the Herald won't even let you speak it's name. I think we should be told the Herald, what wre you covering up! What is ******s, what kind of conspiracy is this.

  • abcxyz  |  February 13 2013, 7:06AM

    I don't eat meat now but I come from a family of small butchers and if you think that small local butchers are the paragons of virtue when it comes to what is in their 'hidden' foods like mince, pies, sausages, burgers, brawn, pates, black pudding ******s etc then I suggest you think again. Believe me you just wouldn't want to know what some small, local and so called 'traditional' butchers put into some of their products. You really wouldn't. Doreen Smith

  • guyforkes  |  February 13 2013, 12:26AM

    what a load of rubbish - anonymous people exchanging anonymous insults pathetic get a letter into paper and sign with your real name or just stfu

  • EdnaFruitcake  |  February 12 2013, 10:07PM

    Oh dear, you boys do like a good argument, anyway, as I was saying, I still blame Osama bin liner for that mad cow disease, I think it was his lamb that started it.

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  • omnivore23  |  February 12 2013, 9:51PM

    Charles. You made a very challenging statement - and I asked you to clarify it - that is all. You may of course be right about a predisposition towards contracting prion diseases like CJD - not all smokers get lung cancer - and our susceptibility to disease is almost certain to be a combination of environmental and lifestyle factors and genetic predisposition - which was the point of course that the late Mark Purdey was making although he was rather more specific - namely about a link with organophosphates. The reason I picked you up on it was that you seemed to be pooh-poohing the link with BSE, and appeared to suggest that the link was a political artifice- and in fact you still seem to be doing so in arguing that it has not been "proven" - well of course it never will - that is the very nature of scientific enquiry, as you will know as a big fan of the "facts" Charles - but the best evidence we have at our disposal at this point in time suggests a very very strong connection between BSE and variant CJD. You ask why people like me always "start" - well of course I can only speak for myself - but when I see people making statements like the ones you made - and which I know to be questionable, I want to challenge them. If someone posted "badgers don't spread TB in cattle" - I think you would probably "start" wouldn't you. .....and I wouldn't dream of questioning you about badgers - I know nothing at all about the issue, and you clearly do. I do however know a great deal about Variant CJD for reasons I will not go into - and when I see statements like yours - I cannot help but challenge. I suggest that if you find that unacceptable Charles - you stop posting your opinions, sorry, "facts" on public message boards. If you don't want to be challenged about your statements - I suggest you stop making them.

  • Charlespk  |  February 12 2013, 9:07PM

    @omnivore23 Tuesday, February 12 2013, 8:33PM I do NOT make outrageous statements. . You have obviously just come for an argument. EdnaFruitcake wanted an argument about 'the moral highground'. . I responded with the facts. I only deal in FACTS. The full facts surrounding vCJD have not been established. . Nothing has been proven, but it is very likely that any person susceptible to vCJD was also susceptible to CDJ otherwise many more than 170 persons would have been affected over 14years . That was not an offensive statement. Tell me please. . Why is it people like you always have to 'start'? I'll bid you Good-Evening.

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