FUW URGES FSA TO REFOCUS EFFORTS TO TACKLE FOOD MISLABELLING
The Farmers' Union of Wales welcomed the Food Standards Agency's publication today of a meat testing protocol but has called on the watchdog to further refocus its work on tackling fraud and mislabelling.
The call came after the FSA published its protocol for a UK-wide survey of food authenticity in processed meat products drawn up in collaboration with Defra, the devolved administrations and local authorities.
FUW president Emyr Jones said: "The Welsh livestock industry has been disgusted by the recent revelations that horsemeat has been found in products sold as processed beef and similar stories, and the FSA's publication of a meat testing protocol is welcome.
"However, a real pattern is emerging which should give people confidence that buying local and buying Welsh means you get exactly what is on the label.
"Those involved in and who have profited from fraudulent mis-labelling at every level of the supply chain should be punished."
Mr Jones said the revelations highlight concerns, expressed by the FUW over many years, that the FSA has been preoccupied with issues which should not fall within its remit while allowing disturbing practices such as this to go on undetected.
"For many years the FUW has expressed concerns regarding the FSA's drive to see products which form part of a healthy diet, such as red meat, cheese and Marmite, branded as unhealthy."
He also highlighted the pressures exerted on suppliers of local food such as small abattoirs and butchers during the FSA review of its charging arrangements.
"Businesses are already paying huge charges to comply with food standards requirements and if these were increased they would have a catastrophic impact on small and medium sized businesses, including local butchers.
"Ironically, such charges play straight into the hands of those who have been found to be producing and selling inferior mis-labelled products, as they are undermining the viability of those who produce fully traceable and local Welsh food.
"It's time for the FSA to refocus its efforts and concentrate on what consumers genuinely regard as food standards.
"I am always proud to remind consumers the official Protected Geographical Indication (PGI) status of Welsh Lamb and Welsh Beef, which protects the reputation of regional food products.
"PGI assures consumers Welsh Lamb and Welsh Beef have full traceability and are guaranteed to be sourced from lambs or cattle born and reared in Wales."