I wasn’t surprised to read in the Guardian that the horesmeat substitution scandal isn’t a one-off limited to a few rogues and that the problem is exacerbated by weak policing, tight margins and stretched councils. The only thing I would have added to the list is customer demand for cheaper meat.
If the government thought it was getting a dry technical expert to conduct its review of the horsemeat scandal in Chris Elliott, it miscalculated. Elliott is professor of food safety and director of the Institute for Global Food Security at Queen’s University Belfast, with hundreds of specialist academic articles on control of agriculture to his name. His report is explosive.
Both the environment department and No 10 are said to have been deeply uncomfortable about his insistence on repeatedly referring not just to food fraud, which might be the work of “rogue” operators, but to serious food crime in the mainstream industry.
While the report is careful not to join all the dots, and Elliott himself stresses that the scale of hidden illegal activity in our food supply is almost by definition impossible to calculate, it leaves little doubt that the UK has a very serious problem.