“The European Commission’s response to the horsemeat scandal has been totally inadequate,” said Glenis Willmott, Leader of the Labour MEPs, after a high-level meeting in Brussels scheduled by Labour MEPs to discuss the horsemeat scandal today.
“The horsemeat scandal should result in a Europe-wide comprehensive legislation on ‘origin labelling’ for all meat in processed foods, and a better EU enforcement procedure,” Glenis Willmott added.
MEPs sent an urgent summons to senior representatives from the European Commission and the European Food Safety Agency to discuss the widening horsemeat scandal across Europe at the European Parliament’s Environment and Food Safety Committee.
“EFSA and the European Commission just gave us reassurance that the EU has the best system in the world, when what we need is a commitment to better traceability,” said Glenis Willmott.
“It’s scandalous that leading food manufacturers and retailers have been selling us food containing horsemeat without our knowledge,” said Glenis Willmott who originally proposed comprehensive EU rules for country of origin labelling for meat in processed foods in 2011.”
Glenis Willmott’s proposals were supported by the European Parliament, but opposition from the UK coalition government in the EU Council of Ministers forced the Parliament into a much weaker compromise.
“It was clear the UK government wanted to kick the issue into the long grass. I insisted that the European Commission should come forward with a report on labelling meat in processed food by this year rather than wait until the end of 2014. Ironically Owen Paterson is now calling for an ‘acceleration’ of this report,” she said.
“If companies are obliged to specify to their customers the origin of the meat they use, industry would have to keep a much tighter grip on their supply chain. This would make it less likely that illegal meat of unknown origin gets on to our supermarket shelves.
“Sadly, it’s taken a crisis for ministers across the EU to wake up to the fact that we must change the way the food industry works.
“It’s interesting that Britain’s Owen Paterson, one of the most eurosceptic Tory Ministers, is now advocating EU legislation as a solution to the current crisis. It’s simply common sense that a problem in the meat supply chain, that has so far affected 16 EU members, needs EU-wide measures to combat it,” Glenis Willmott concluded.