What is the EU doing about the food scandal?


            Today newspapers are seeking the guilty in the FSA and the UK government.

           This is rather curious, when agriculture policy is settled in Brussels. Most of the subsidy, the controls and the regulations are EU ones. So too are all the rules concerning the single market in food products, food labels and the rest.

             I thought the whole point of the EU according to its supporters was to take power over the food industry (and the rest) so that it could ensure high standards in Romania as well as in the UK. We have to accept product from the continent in return for assurances that the EU government will guarantee and set high standards throughout the zone.

             Maybe it is time a Commissioner was woken up on on a Sunday morning and made to answer.

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  1. Posted February 10, 2013 at 8:44 am | Permalink

    Extremely pleased to see someone saying that this entire fiasco is the fault of the EU. Thank you. That food is an EU competence and that those that caused the problem will now be involved in any remedial measures that will be taken does not bode well for the eventual outcome.

    • Posted February 10, 2013 at 11:48 am | Permalink

      WfW: “Extremely pleased to see someone saying that this entire fiasco is the fault of the EU.”

      It was EU regulations that forced the closure of many long established local abattoirs, that were perfectly adequately regulated by UK law.

      It is EU regulations that are at the root of the ‘black’ fish scandal and the discarding of perfectly edible fish because the catch is ‘over quota’.

      Nor is it just food safety either.

      We should not forget the silicone breast implant scandal, certified in one EU country means we ( in another ) cannot refuse to use such devices in UK hospitals. The fact that that country may keep the best and export the rest (substandard devices ) is neither here nor there as far as the EU is concerned.

      • Posted February 10, 2013 at 7:22 pm | Permalink

        We should not forget the silicone breast implant scandal, certified in one EU country means we ( in another ) cannot refuse to use such devices in UK hospitals.

        Actually the UK can refuse to buy them, however I expect that private hospitals chose to buy these implants because they were the cheapest.

        • Posted February 10, 2013 at 9:25 pm | Permalink

          uanime5: “I expect that private hospitals chose to buy these implants because they were the cheapest.”

          I’ll attempt to clarify my statement for those of us more determinedly obtuse.

          The UK government cannot ban imports of a device or medical appliance into the UK, once it has been certified as safe in any other EUropean Union country.

          Now I’ll address your slur against the private sector.

          The government (EU) says a thing is safe and our local administrative organization (Westminster) is forbidden from restricting it in its administrative area (the UK) – a private organization buying these medical items in good faith ( two regulatory bodies, the EU and Westminster having ( falsely as it turns out) certified these devices safe, offers them to its clients in good faith – which is betrayed by the very regulatory organizations that set themselves up to (make a pretence of ) public safety.

          You who laud public sector regulation think this a good system, fasten on the fact that a private company seeks to make a profit and seek to blame the private company when the blame lies clearly with the public regulatory organisation.

          You ought to be ashamed of that attitude.

          • Posted February 11, 2013 at 9:39 am | Permalink

            I agree that if the private company is buying something which has been certified as safe by regulators then the fault will normally lie with the regulatory system if it turns out to be unsafe.

            I say “normally” because if the company is actually aware that the regulatory system has failed in a particular case and that something is unsafe then it is a very weak defence to say “We knew that it was unsafe but we had been officially told that it was safe, so we carried on using it”.

            On the other hand those running and working in private companies are not saints. If they were all saints then the need for outside inspection and intervention would be greatly reduced, although probably not entirely eliminated, but the reality is that private companies employ human beings and while some of them may indeed be saints inevitably some will be sinners.

          • Posted February 11, 2013 at 3:22 pm | Permalink

            If private company false claims something meets safety standards when it doesn’t meet these standards then it’s the fault of this company, not the regulators, that this product doesn’t meet these standards.

            The EU and Westminster do not certify these products as safe and I have no idea why you’d think that they did. All they do is create the standards that have to be complied with to sell these products in the UK. It is up to the companies making and using these products to ensure that these products meet these standards.

            So any failings are the fault of the companies for not testing these products, not the regulators for not magically knowing that something was wrong.

        • Posted February 12, 2013 at 10:20 am | Permalink

          I’m sure the NHS is at least equally guilty of relying on tick box regulation to cover its mistakes in using unsuitable supplies.

    • Posted February 10, 2013 at 11:53 am | Permalink

      So what deal did Cameron get on the CAP, Blaire gave our money away allegedly in return for a better deal on the CAP. So now we pay more and have substandard food from the EU.

      Cameron secured a 6% increase for the UK taxpayer to the EU budget this week and thinks it was a success.

      He jumped to the EU tune last week over gay marriage. Interesting articles by Christopher Booker and Janet Daley on the subject. If my understanding of the article is correct, when was Cameron, Clegg and May going tell the British public about spending Uk taxpayers’ money to lobby for gay marriage in Europe? Does this not also go to the heart of your blog about who MPs represent? There really needs to be correlation between what MP pledge/promise in their manifesto and what they deliver so the public knows what they are voting for.

      We are told 5 more coal fired power stations close this week to fulfil an EU carbon directive when they produced 25 times more energy than the 4,000 wind machines yesterday. The others will pay a huge carbon tax in April thanks to Osborne. Where is our energy going to come from? How will people afford to heat and light their homes because of the EU directive? Why has Cameron not stopped this nonsense until the public has a right to vote in or out of the EU. Why is advice from the FOC still appear to be applying to conceal where EU directives affect our lives?

    • Posted February 11, 2013 at 7:39 am | Permalink

      Well said!

  2. Posted February 10, 2013 at 8:45 am | Permalink

    The newspapers have a political agenda and are more interested in finding the ‘guilty parties’ in the UK than in the rather boring details of how to establish reliable databases of cows in Romania. They are also predominately eurosceptic and want to see the EU as part of the problem, not as a way to a solution.

    • Posted February 10, 2013 at 10:30 am | Permalink

      The guilty parties are the retailers and manufactures. Is the state and the EU to harass them every day with checks and regulations preventing then from going about their business? Or was the number of checks the cause of the problem if we did not know then we would all be happy? A nanny state telling these companies what they should and should not do?

  3. Posted February 10, 2013 at 8:56 am | Permalink

    A very valid point Mr Redwood, perhaps one our PM would also like to enlighten us about – before any referendum!

  4. Posted February 10, 2013 at 8:58 am | Permalink

    In this respect the EU seems to be in good company with most other bureaucracies. Excelling at finger pointing and regulation, not so hot on compliance and monitoring.

    Confirmation that much bureaucracy is a waste of money.

    Much smaller government please with fewer high salary packages. High salaries (in most case excessively high even in the private sector) are a reward for the generation of income, not (in) competent administration.

  5. Posted February 10, 2013 at 9:04 am | Permalink

    We all know that standards agencies are invariably tick box organisations, always wise after the event.

    I hope that the major supermarkets involved get fined heavily (in the millions) as they are the ones selling these products to the trusting public. This will encourage them to sharpen up their act.

    It gobsmacks me that the major supermarkets, with their turnover and profitability, are not fully checking the quality of their products on a regular basis in a laboratory.

    Its not for the food agencies to do the day to day checking, but they should be insisting the major players have proper quality control systems.

  6. Posted February 10, 2013 at 9:44 am | Permalink

    “A Commissioner was woken up on on a Sunday morning and made to answer”! Oh no you have not quite understood how the EU works. The EU is not a vulgar democracy, they have no accountability whatsoever. Other than a very expensive and superficial fake veneer of MEPs. All the blame is designed to fall on Westminster and the individual countries concerned.

    Mind you, that is quite right and proper, as Westminster foolishly gave these powers away to these Commissioners in the first place – and without any authority so to do.

    • Posted February 10, 2013 at 10:26 am | Permalink

      Would you say in your fantasy world of commerce that the manufactures are overburdened with regulations and check or there is not enough to prevent hazards to public health?

      • Posted February 10, 2013 at 6:48 pm | Permalink

        Meat is not an industry I know well, thankfully, but I am sure they are over burdened with regulations like everyone else. Ones that probably, as usual, miss the important targets and involve lots of pointless paper work.

        • Posted February 10, 2013 at 7:30 pm | Permalink

          So what’s your solution lifelogic? Less regulation even though this will make it easier for companies to sell horse meat as beef.

          Perhaps processed food manufactures should be required to check the quality of their ingredients, that would have quickly revealed that this meat come from horses rather than cows.

    • Posted February 10, 2013 at 1:34 pm | Permalink

      Its only Britain that abides by the EU’s rules for the rest its a “pick n mix” whatever they choose. Can’t wait to hear when the Countries exporting these potentially dangerous products (no controls on medicines or other banned substances on horses!) are banned and the relevant Countries/Companies fined by the EU. I seem to remember and embarrassing haste to stop all our beef products when we had foot and mouth issues.
      Our leaders and Sir Humphries are just not up to the task.

    • Posted February 10, 2013 at 2:06 pm | Permalink

      Our host cannot on the one hand demand powers back and on the other not be able to handle them and take the blame when things go wrong. The responsibility for food standards in the UK rests with the FSA. It is pointless us electing a government here which sets up the FSA but the minute things go wrong shuffles blame back to Brussels.

      Reply Demanding powers back shows that too many powers have gone – why shouldn’t we hold the EU to account whilst they still have these large powers?

  7. Posted February 10, 2013 at 9:49 am | Permalink

    John ,

    That was my reaction .

    Faisal Islam on Channel 4 seemed to be more concerned with trying to pin it on coalition cuts .

    Unfortunately with 63million mouths to feed the UK can’t produce all it’s own meat so can’t put sanctions in place to stop import of foreign meat like the continent did for British beef .

    Mechanically rendered meat and intensively farmed chicken and pork is all that many can afford these days .

    Bottom line is the UK has no control over processed meat products from beyond it’s borders .

    This is yet another example where regulations are worthless unless they are properly enforced .

    • Posted February 10, 2013 at 10:24 am | Permalink

      Read your first sentence then read your last. This was the point Faisal Islam was making. He was taking the minister to pieces and making it look easy as it was. He asked how where we to know that rat or dog was not in the products. The guy looked shocked and disbelieving at the question and then went into a Soviet answer not answering this fundamental question.
      The checks lie with the manufactures and sellers. Don’t make excuses for them and try to blame the journalists for asking questions.

      • Posted February 10, 2013 at 8:32 pm | Permalink

        The manufacture appears to be in other EU countries. In France, they eat horsemeat without demur. Do you expoct them to be as rigorous checking for horsemeat in their plants there? Should the UK fund inspectors to tour factories all over the EU?

        • Posted February 11, 2013 at 8:52 am | Permalink

          Why should the UK fund any inspections? If I am purchasing beef I expect and are legally entitled to beef whatever my taste for horse is. The tests to ensure this come down to the manufactures and retailers. Am I supposed to test for it? The point is though it could have been any meat and the horse meat added was hardly of prime quality. Prime race horse quality maybe and who knows what is in that?

          • Posted February 11, 2013 at 1:25 pm | Permalink

            I was asking Bazman for his view. I think we should have our own inspection regime, which could be applied to imported food as well as to that locally produced and processed. It need not be overly intrusive and costly if it is well designed.

    • Posted February 10, 2013 at 10:30 am | Permalink

      “trying to pin it on coalition cuts” that will also, no doubt, be the BBC, Labour and the state sector unions line too.

      • Posted February 11, 2013 at 8:53 am | Permalink

        Who would you say is to blame lifelogic? The BBC? Absurd regulations? To much tax? Do tell us.

    • Posted February 10, 2013 at 12:53 pm | Permalink

      Currently British cattle, particularly from near bankrupt dairy farms are being sold at rock bottom prices to be processed as pet food. Most of these carcasses could easily be used to replace the processed meat being imported. There is no reason why we should not impose an imediately impose a ban on importing any meat or meat products that have not be tested genetically. In the current economic climate the UK government should be taking every opportunity to reduce imports.

    • Posted February 10, 2013 at 1:57 pm | Permalink

      Nothing wrong with mechanically recovered (not rendered) meat, it is simply cleaning the meat off the bones that would have been put in a stew in other times. There is also nothing wrong with intensively reared British chicken, having spent a 40 year career in that industry, both growing and teaching, I know intimately what is involved at all stages.

      There are no health or other benefits from so-called organic products, but if people wish to pay twice as much for those products, I have no objection.

      • Posted February 10, 2013 at 6:54 pm | Permalink

        I’ve wrung plenty of chickens necks but think it is disgusting how they are treated in intensive farms and battery egg farming .

        I’m also a hypocrite for eating the supermarket free range which is only farmed at a slightly lower density and probably a fool for paying the extra .

        These sort of scandals get far more coverage than the abuse of vulnerable children in care homes which seems to be brushed under the carpet .

    • Posted February 10, 2013 at 6:56 pm | Permalink

      Correction : Guru-Murthy

  8. Posted February 10, 2013 at 9:49 am | Permalink

    I think I have found the guy to wake up, http://ec.europa.eu/dgs/health_consumer/chart.pdf .

    He runs Directorate E in the Directorate General for Health and Consumers.
    http://ec.europa.eu/dgs/health_consumer/index_en.htm .

    Frankly, I can’t see how they can do the job with only 960 staff! 😉 .

    • Posted February 10, 2013 at 10:37 am | Permalink

      Just abolish all this EU nonsense and consumer rights. Caveat emptor will be the new and only law. Food poisoning? That will teach you for buying that la-sag-nee for a quid. What did you expect? Would yo expect Champagne to be the same price a Gham-pag-ne. Case dismissed.

      • Posted February 10, 2013 at 7:34 pm | Permalink

        At least Bazman understands what the free market is actually about.

        • Posted February 10, 2013 at 10:18 pm | Permalink

          You keep telling us about this free market fantsy of yours.
          Where has it existed post war in Europe?
          Perhaps we should be told?

          • Posted February 11, 2013 at 3:24 pm | Permalink

            Edward you are the one with the free market fantasy, I am the one who knows how it works in real life. Fortunately in Europe the free market was fettered long ago to protect customers and employees from the greed of unscrupulous companies.

          • Posted February 11, 2013 at 6:49 pm | Permalink

            Thanks for finally admitting that we all live in a mixed economy, one where the State and the private sector operate together under a complex system of taxation, laws and regulations.
            This has been the situation for centuries.

            You say you are the one who”knows how it works in real life” yet I notice can give no examples of any free market.
            The debate is about the size and power of the State versus the private sector.

            It is you having a fantasy about this, not me.

  9. Posted February 10, 2013 at 9:56 am | Permalink

    Don’t fall into the trap.

    Your government, not one in Brussels, was elected to safeguard UK citizens. You have no scientists or engineers in the cabinet, and then you end up with people like Owen Paterson (History) not having a clue about what is involved or the time necessary for food testing. See his interview with Guru-Murthy on Channel 4 news last week for evidence.


    • Posted February 10, 2013 at 11:32 am | Permalink


    • Posted February 10, 2013 at 12:00 pm | Permalink


      Too late old chap. Quite frankly, the whole dog and pony show in Westminster is a fraud. Quite why we pay them a single sou is beyond

  10. Posted February 10, 2013 at 10:08 am | Permalink

    The current Commissioner for Agriculture and Rural Development is Dacian Cioloş from – yes, you’ve guessed it – Romania!

  11. Posted February 10, 2013 at 10:17 am | Permalink

    Lets put the blame where it lies legally for the consumer and that’s with the retailers selling sub standard products that do not contain what is stated on the label. Where they source their products and how they ensure they are up to the required legal standards as the consumer not my problem. The supermarkets make millions every year selling these processed foods often at the same price as their rivals, so bleating that they did not know is not going to wash. Like banking they want no regulation and freedom to do what they want saying this is in the best interests of the consumer. We can see who’s interests it is in. The prices in the supermarkets in recent years has doubled and trebled on some products with the weights going down to try and hide this fact. They are becoming like the utility and train companies and if any of the fantasists want to tell me I have a choice and there is competition, then what alternative is there to supermarkets and what competition as they are all the same price? Grow my own? The garden would have to be twice the size and I would have to work it like a Russian peasant. Ram it.

    • Posted February 10, 2013 at 10:41 am | Permalink


      I do agree with you.

      This is also the result of an over relience on tick box paperwork certification, where more faith and effort is put in filling in paperwork correctly, than testing any product for its suitability or fit for purpose.

    • Posted February 10, 2013 at 1:03 pm | Permalink

      Any size of garden , even a window box can be used to grow food. Even in a reasonably sized garden this only takes a few hours a week, often less than it takes to mow the lawn, cut the hedges and tend the flower beds. You don’t need to emulate “a Russian peasant” by attempting to grow root crops like potatoes that involve heavy labour. Concentrate on high value crops like salad vegetables and if you have the room fruit trees. The latter involve no labour other than the annual prune and of course picking the fruit.

      • Posted February 10, 2013 at 9:29 pm | Permalink

        Shut up (word deleted).

    • Posted February 10, 2013 at 1:12 pm | Permalink

      This is a ridiculous comment.

      If a UK retailer buys a product from a reputable European supplier like Findus or Associated British Foods who I believe own the Irish plant where the problem was first identified, they have every right to expect that the product contains exactly and only what it says on the packaging.

      However, it’s equally clear that across the whole of the enlarged EU there will be businesses with less than satisfactory standards and ethics.

      We are far more likely to face these problems now that the EU has been widened to include so many countries without a strong history of citizen’s rights and of obedience to the rule of law.

      It’s therefore unrealistic to think that sourcing meat products from, say, Rumania is going to be as safe and reliable as it would be, for example, from Germany.

      This is where the single market breaks down : Brussels simply can’t monitor standards at every supplier in 27 countries like it was able to when there were only 6 or 10 member countries.

      Our retailers and German ones like Aldi may have ultimate responsibility to the end consumer but in reality, the company that sources the ingredients and manufacturers the products should be the one that should be held to account.

      Very heavy consequences including massive fines and criminal action against executives are needed to ensure that manufacturers carry out sufficient testing to guarantee the products they supply to retailers are up to standard.

      Just for once, retailers like Tesco and Aldi appear to be entirely innocent here.

      • Posted February 10, 2013 at 8:30 pm | Permalink

        “entirely innocent here” Of course they are not, the likes of Tesco and Aldi are the ones breaking consumer law and should be fined heavily.

        As I said earlier the major supermarkets, with their turnover and profitability, should be fully checking the quality of their products on a regular basis in a laboratory. As soon as the supply chain knows this is going on then the likes of Findus will also take a keener interest is where their raw materials come from.

        The other day Tesco’s CE said the new testing regime they were putting in place will cost them £1 to £2 million a year. I not sure whether he thought we should be impressed with that sum or how sorry we should feel for poor Tesco. In the scale of things I should imagine that those sums are trivial even compared to the pay and perks of Tesco’s directors.

      • Posted February 11, 2013 at 12:41 pm | Permalink

        So that Chinese toy contains high levels of lead or the electronic device that catches fire or electrocutes is no responsibility of the supermarkets selling it or does this only apply to food? Sorry Guv do we look like electronic engineers? Blame the EU. See how far that would go in court of law. Is there no limit to your apologist stance?

    • Posted February 10, 2013 at 2:14 pm | Permalink

      Indeed your complaint is with the person or organisation you have purchased the product from.
      However, I don’t remember the big supermarkets and food producers campaigning for no regulation.
      You say there is no option but to buy from the big supermarkets.
      Well I now go to my local shop and have done for more than a year, a very nice family business, who are open long hours, give friendly personal service, and very reasonable prices.
      Overall, compared with the major supermarkets where I used to shop it is working out quicker and much cheaper.

      • Posted February 11, 2013 at 9:01 am | Permalink

        They fight any regulation of food every step of the way. Fat content, labeling, lobbing against any regulations and funding various campaigns against any changes for the better. Claiming that it would ‘confuse the customer and increase cost among many other excuses. The local shops need further investigation, the local greengrocer does seem to be cheaper and better than the big supermarkets. My wife can cook so we don’t eat much proceeded food anyway. Cook up at the weekend and microwave what is made through the week is the way we do it. Cheaper too.

  12. Posted February 10, 2013 at 10:26 am | Permalink

    Delighted to see you taking this up, Mr Redwood.
    For an authoritative overviewof the horsemeat problems with a detailed explanation as to how it has arisen and how the situation has been allowed to get out control see two articles from Richard North’s website. He together with Christopher Booker have a formidable knowledge and expertise on all things “European”, a knowledge that far exceeds most politicians and journalists. See:
    “EU regulation: criminal negligence”
    “EU regulation: a porous network”

    • Posted February 10, 2013 at 6:47 pm | Permalink

      “Neither, without firm evidence of a problem, are we allowed to check imported meat at the point of sale (or at any point in between, during processing and distribution) on a scale greater than we do meat of domestic origin. This is prohibited under EU law, as discrimination on the ground of nationality.”

      But we do have firm evidence of a problem, namely that backward and poorly governed countries like Romania have been allowed to join the EU.

      • Posted February 10, 2013 at 7:38 pm | Permalink

        So the solution is higher levels of testing for all meat products sold in the UK, rather than the current system which doesn’t seem to require any testing. As long as domestic meat and meat from other EU countries is tested the same way there won’t be any violation of EU laws.

        • Posted February 11, 2013 at 9:46 am | Permalink

          No, the solution is for our sovereign Parliament to get up off its knees and authorise the UK government to disapply EU laws which don’t work and cause us problems.

          • Posted February 11, 2013 at 3:29 pm | Permalink

            The EU law says that the UK cannot treat meat from the EU differently from domestic meat so unless you have some sort of delusion that meat in the UK is always perfectly healthy (despite the BSE scandal) there’s no reason why domestic and EU meat can’t be subject to the same level of checks.

            Face it the problem isn’t the EU law, it’s that both domestic and imported meat isn’t being properly checked.

      • Posted February 11, 2013 at 3:52 pm | Permalink

        You seem a little hard on Romania. I know my hard working Romanian friends are feeling very peed off at all the bad news about mass immigration etc. I made a light hearted remark about the possibility that I was about to eat a bit of redundant cart hourse and get a bute? high over Sunday lunch yesterday and they nearly burst into tears. Their PM has been a bit miffed too and pointed out that it was labelled ‘horse or possibly donkey’ when it left the country. It was his government that banned the carts.

        When it arrived at Castelnaudry to be put into french cuisine and sent to the UK, their chefs would possibly have been able to ask why it looked like horse and was half price. The horse I have seen in butchers there looks darker and less fatty. It used to be more expensive as it was considered better than beef. Our neighbours may have thought they were doing the ‘rosane’ a favour when it went into the minceur.

    • Posted February 10, 2013 at 6:50 pm | Permalink

      “This is the criminal underbelly of the meat trade, and there are many variations. It used to be fairly local, small-scale and contained. But, with the advent of the Single Market, it has gone international, and multiplied in value. There is a huge amount of money in it, with just one container-load turning in over £100,000 profit.

      What we are seeing, therefore, could well (and almost certainly is) be the tip of an iceberg. No one has yet addressed it – it turned out to be too dangerous to research for a television programme. But we are now seeing one of the side-effects of a flawed system.”

      A flawed system which successive UK governments have helped to set up.

  13. Posted February 10, 2013 at 10:39 am | Permalink

    Same as what is happening with PIP breast implants and toxic hip joints – NOTHING!

    “The fabulous Single Market which has brought us these great successes is the very same that Mr Cameron so enthusiastically supports, and tells us is so necessary.

    The rules for these particular products are now undergoing revision, and have been going through the process for four years, with further revisions also proposed. But, the relevant directives have already been amended many times. There is no guarantee this time that the EU will get them right this time”.

    We need control of our own economy or the ability to sue the government for negligence.

    • Posted February 10, 2013 at 9:28 pm | Permalink

      Sue: “Same as what is happening with PIP breast implants and toxic hip joints – NOTHING!”


      The fault lies with the regulatory regime set in place by the EU, and agreed to by our politicians.

  14. Posted February 10, 2013 at 11:01 am | Permalink

    I absolutely agree John, but I’ve heard it said by EU supporters, that for the EU to do the job of monitoring these things properly, they (and this is absolutely true) NEED MORE MONEY!

    Now I think I did pretty well to keep my cool, and not use a word that sounds like a cross between Balderdash and Goldilocks, but when we may finally alter the mind-set of these people, and make them see the realities of the world they too live in, then we have a chance of changing things, but not until, because they have gained for themselves, all the power and the influence, and that is difficult to break down.

    So who’s holding the EU executive to account on this one?

    And what about all the anti-biotics vets inject into cattle at the farmer’s behest, that gets into the food chain, and is slowly making us resistant to them, so that when we too become ill, there’s nothing to fight it with?

    Shouldn’t the EU masters be tackling that one also?

    Tad Davison


  15. Posted February 10, 2013 at 11:07 am | Permalink

    The 2 big French Sunday papers have different priorities, as far as I can see with my limited French. Le Monde has it as second story on the front page, and talks about the french involvement including the various companies involved in the preparation of the food, and it’s possibility of supply from Holland, Cyprus and Romania. They also print a disclaimer from the Romanians, and point out that some French outlets have withdrawn products.
    Figaro on the other hand has it well down the list, nearly at the bottom of the page, and is more what we have come to expect from the French press, they cannot escape that there are French companies involved, but they suggest that the Findus products were specially prepared for the UK, and make no mention at all about French shops being involved.
    So nothing less than expected from our “friends” in Europe. Wait for the squeals of anger when exports from France fall, perhaps they will take to burning trucks of meat on the roads of the UK. Buy British.

    • Posted February 10, 2013 at 6:36 pm | Permalink

      “… it’s possibility of supply from Holland, Cyprus and Romania …”

      Oh, so the goody-goody Dutch are no better than the Romanians?

  16. Posted February 10, 2013 at 11:17 am | Permalink

    What we are seeing with food is the same effect we have seen with banking and in many other sectors. I am sure things will get a lot worse still.

    Continent-wide regulations do not work for many reasons. The most obvious reason is that different cultures have different standards. However, even more serious is that, if everyone is working (and breaking) the same set of rules, a problem becomes an epidemic as there is no diversification.

    As innovation is stifled and products are made and controlled in the same way, we end up with an increasingly government controlled communist style system with very large (too big to fail) players putting more resource into working to the rules to the bone than in providing a good service.

    We need less regulations and for these regulations to be local.

    What is the EU doing about the food scandal?

    One can always hope that the commissions says that it cannot possible have Europe-wide rules as these are unworkable and dangerous and it recommends repatriation of these powers to sovereigns.

    However, we all know that the reaction will be that they want MORE rules and MORE enforcement, thus MORE power and MORE of our money.

    • Posted February 10, 2013 at 7:48 pm | Permalink


      Your post make it clear you have no idea what you’re talking about.

      EU food standards aren’t some vaguely worded documents but contain a list of the tests that have to be performed in order for meat to be considered safe by EU standards. What happened in this case was that a Romanian company decided to ignore these standards and no one bothered to check what they were buying.’

      Your comments about innovation being stifled and communism totally wrong. Just because all food products have to conform to the same standards doesn’t prevent innovation; that’s why new flavours of drinks, crisps, and pot noodles are still being produced.

      Demanding less regulation and more local regulations would have made this problem worse, not better, because it would have allowed Romania to legally ignore all food standards. More regulations regarding the testing of food products are required to identify food products that have been mislabelled.

      • Posted February 10, 2013 at 10:26 pm | Permalink

        Strange Uni how ever more centralised regulation over many of our pan national industries is showing less effective results.
        Perhaps you would argue that even more regulation is the answer, but until what and until when?
        Perhaps like 1984……less is more

        • Posted February 11, 2013 at 3:32 pm | Permalink

          Care to provide any evidence to back up any of your claims that regulation isn’t effective. Face it Edward better regulations have lead to far fewer deaths in the workplace and make the food that’s produced far safer.

          • Posted February 11, 2013 at 6:57 pm | Permalink

            You are now saying “better regulation” which I have no problem with.
            I said ever more regulation.
            There is a subtle difference.

      • Posted February 11, 2013 at 8:18 pm | Permalink

        I can only write of what I know which is that, before the single market, supermarkets employed product technologists in the field who audited the supply chain.

        This was an expensive operation when products were sourced from abroad. In those days we were talking of citrus, some top fruit, tomatoes (in the winter), bananas and some exotic fruit. Most fresh meat came from the UK or Ireland in those days with frozen lamb from NZ. Poultry came from the UK with some specialist poultry from France. The expense of this operation was probably the main reason why the only fresh products from abroad were those not available in the UK.

        What has happened since is the supermarkets have increasingly delegated quality assurance, auditing and even sourcing down the supply chain, relying increasingly on the provisions of eu regulations to cover food safety and legalities.

        They have saved a lot of money in the process. Commercially the supermarkets found this irresistible as government(s) were offering to take up this responsibility though common regulations across the eu.

        The Food Safety 1990 was designed to maintain food standards while ensuring compliance and policing were carried out by the industry itself. However, the more prescriptive and continental-wide regulations forming part of the Single Market meant that the ‘due diligence’ that was originally required under the act was now taken care of in one stoke by these eu regulations.

        It was – and is – a recipe for low standards as large corporations could hide behind sweeping regulations as a ‘reasonable defence’ in law. In fact, the more they audit themselves, the more they are corporately liable. By bulk-ticking of boxes, using continental-wide regulations, they could claim a defence that the law protected the safety and legality of food products.

        When I was in this business, we once had a problem with dairy product from abroad. We could not contact the originating location of the product. However we were assured by the supplier the product was fine. “Can we speak to someone who is doing shelf life test? Is the product mouldy?”.”No need to speak with anyone”, we were told. I will fax you the shelf life test data. That was that. It was too far to travel to and so the supplier ‘proved’ they had complied with the auditing regime. This is the bleak future of our food in the UK if we do not stop this ridiculous harmonization of bulk box ticking across Europe.

      • Posted February 12, 2013 at 7:39 am | Permalink

        You knew all the intricate details of this situation before anyone has actually finished investigating them and you didn’t tell anyone, didn’t warn the consumer or demand the food be tested?

        I am shocked at your lack of solidarity with your co-citizens.

        Where is your evidence for the breach of regulations being in Roumania? Where is your evidence for the French suppliers scrupulously following regulations for supply or product to the UK? Why aren’t you on the streets of Roumania with your placard protesting the assault on EU regulations and our diet?

  17. Posted February 10, 2013 at 11:21 am | Permalink

    The system works very well. Now the supermarkets and the whole supply chain are going to be punished very severely in their pockets. People have already stopped buying the junk, and they may never come back to it. An entire food section potentially wiped out. Caveat Emptor, better than volumes of so-called regulations. We need more of it.

    People who expect the govt to protect us, are waiting for Godot.

  18. Posted February 10, 2013 at 11:34 am | Permalink

    At least we can be reassured that each of the horses would have had its own EU passport (even if some of them were fake).

  19. Posted February 10, 2013 at 11:35 am | Permalink

    The EU unelected power seeking technocrats certainly were able gain the necessary power to regulate the food industries (and the rest). But John you give them far to much credence in perhaps implying that they also wanted to take responsibility for this undemocratic power grab.

    On the contrary these well fed and pampered fat cats took pains to ensure that no responsibility would attach to them, why would they run the risk of being woken up in the morning, especially a Sunday morning.

    This is a lesson drawn for all epochs – fragment power, responsibility and accountability and you have chaos.

    Thanks John for your blog and your constant efforts in uncovering waste, stupidity, unfairness and shining a beacon for good thinking.

  20. Posted February 10, 2013 at 11:39 am | Permalink

    I was premature with my comments on the scandal of food devaluation which appeared under ‘The Value of Money’.

    However, I was in Waitrose yesterday seeking assurances about the integrity of their labelling, not in respect to the horsemeat issue, but the fresh beef. I wish to buy English, but they only display a ‘British’ label. Their cheese carries flags of the nations, including the English flag, but when it comes to beef, they say that ‘the EU does not require them to identify beef other than British’, even though they brag that they know exactly where it comes from. I doubt this means what I would like it to mean and I am following this up further.

    I then asked why they don’t identify their lamb, particularly New Zealand lamb, as being Halal killed with a Muslim prayer. They seemed well versed here and put up a defence that it was perfectly legitimate not to mention it and the killing practice was humane. They said it is up to people to ask if they are interested. So they are happy to with-hold the facts on this very controversial practice and keep most of their customers in the dark to appease a minority.

    I wonder how much the EU mindset is behind these labelling practices and attitudes.

  21. Posted February 10, 2013 at 12:13 pm | Permalink

    Read your article with interest, it would seem that the european food industry is going through the same phase as was the car industry of Europe and the USA in the 1960’s. A professor Edward Deming produced a thesis on how this could be rectified but the only people to take note were the Japanese. The rest is history. The japanese produced vehicles of a quality that devastated their rivals and ultimately their rivals had to follow. We can now choose from cars that are a million miles away from the quality levels of the 60’s.
    From it came ISO 9000 and it’s other parts and eventually QS 9000. This philosophy of quality and how to achieve it spread throughout engineering and beyond. It now needs to be applied to every level of the food industry so making the present profit grabbing shambles infinitely less likely.
    Look up http://www.skymark.com/resources/leaders/deming.asp as a starting point. Then drive the current minister responsible to Honda/Toyota/Nissan for a comprehensive insight into how the industry should be run. When he knows what quality entails he can apply it to his brief. Finally drag all those culpable through the courts.

    • Posted February 10, 2013 at 6:52 pm | Permalink

      Couldn’t agree more
      When you supply the aerospace, automotive, medical device or other industries your materials and processes are traceable from foundry to end product. Paperwork travels with product and is checked at each stage of production.
      It is staggering that food has managed to escape such a system.

      • Posted February 11, 2013 at 11:41 am | Permalink

        Indeed Jim and Roger
        I am a fan of the excellent Dr Demming and his methods of improving and controlling the quality of products and services, reducing waste and defects.
        Relevant to this food scandal, would be his methods for having a strict approved supplier process with the ability for full traceability.

        People complain about the need for proper records and having to follow proper procedures in the workplace, but when this kind of big “non-conformance” occurs they are the first to cry out for more regulation and controls and often complain that there are not enough records to trace the root cause.

  22. Posted February 10, 2013 at 12:16 pm | Permalink

    Oh, the joys which come from enlargement of the EU and therefore its wonderful Single Market, as engineered by our politicians but without them ever daring to ask us directly for our views on the matter.

    The last time we were asked directly, in 1975, it was whether we wanted to stay in an EEC with NINE members, not an EU with 27 members shortly to become 28 and then in the future to become maybe around 40 including Turkey.

    We were never asked whether we agreed to this and nor does the present government intend that we shall ever be asked, Hague having explicitly excluded accession treaties from his so-called “referendum lock”.

    Here’s his February 2012 statement about the accession of Croatia:


    “All of the provisions of the Croatia Accession Treaty relate to the accession of a new member State to the European Union and thus the Croatia Accession Treaty as a whole is subject to the exemption provided for in section 4(4)(c) of the Act.”

    Replace “Croatia” with “Turkey” and the same would apply.

  23. Posted February 10, 2013 at 12:26 pm | Permalink

    Modern society pins its whole faith on paperwork and computerised records, and these are often seen as being more important than the actual goods themselves to those running the system.
    This only works if you can trust those producing the paperwork, but what control have we over the paperwork produced by some Romanian official which accompanied a batch of meat sent to a French processor before being shipped to ready meal manufacturer in Ireland. We can’t prosecute anyone who altered the paperwork; we won’t see the original Romanian documentation, but merely further documentation produced on the basis of it. Plenty of scope for errors and fraud, and no processing factory is going to throw away tons of mince just because some horse meat was found in the finished product. No, let’s adjust the paperwork accordingly!

    • Posted February 10, 2013 at 6:55 pm | Permalink

      Paperwork from dodgy sources should be checked by the buyer via testing, whether supermarket or wholesaler.

  24. Posted February 10, 2013 at 1:20 pm | Permalink

    On the Daily Politics Show, it was mentioned that the Labour party abandoned testing in 2002, if we had this continue may, we would have come across this meath exchange well before now. Why we have to have meat from the EU I don’t know, we produce enough for ourselves. This government should withhold all EU meat from entering our ports until this as been solved. I hope they do and quickly. They’d do it to us without hesitation. Public confidence and health is more important than a few egos in the EU. I would hate to think I’d eaten horse, fortunately we eat from a local butcher, I just hope they can be trusted. Greed mainfests it’s self in many areas, and that’s what this is, greed pure and simple. I now get my fresh vegetables from a farm shop, meat from a local butcher, mostly Scottish beef, but it does make you think where the pork comes from and the lamb. However, you can’t disguise meat like pork and lamb, beef you can but I put my faith in my local butcher and hope for the best. Supermarket food is mass produced for cheapness, and this is the result. It should be more regulated.

  25. Posted February 10, 2013 at 1:40 pm | Permalink

    When does the government intend to prosecute the purveyors of minced toxic mortgages repackaged and sold as investment grade produce, entirely fit for the consumption of widows and orphans, when those doing the selling had taken out insurance against the high probability that their vile concoctions would kill or seriously injure their customers? Has eating horse actually harmed anyone? Will the Fed or BoE have to spend trillions buying back all the tainted produce already in the marketplace? When do the major crooks actually start going to prison?

  26. Posted February 10, 2013 at 1:51 pm | Permalink

    And why it is so important for Britain to have a voice in Europe, otherwise there might be a problem with adulterated, processed food… for example.

  27. Posted February 10, 2013 at 1:53 pm | Permalink

    Government = waste, incompetence and theft.
    Big government means the same on a bigger scale.
    If you want efficient anything remove state controls from it. If you want shortages, high costs and lots of criminality call for regulation.
    Very simple rules, always ignored.

  28. Posted February 10, 2013 at 2:02 pm | Permalink

    And at the same time the Commissioner should be asked why it is that eggs being produced in conditions made illegal by the EU are being exported to the UK, and the UK is unable to stop it under threat of prosecution by the European Court.

  29. Posted February 10, 2013 at 2:12 pm | Permalink

    The whole issue revolves around paperwork. Supermarkets send auditors to meat plants and are concerned with the HACCP process, (Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Points ). These HACCP documents run into major volumes of printed material and the auditor runs through these documents to see that the various processes have been “signed off.” If all the tick boxes are positive, the audit outcome is good and the plant can continue supplying the supermarket.

    With regard to overseas plants, the supermarkets claim that auditing is done as rigorously as in the UK, but in many cases it will be left to local agents.

    As long as the paperwork is in order, there will be few questions.

  30. Posted February 10, 2013 at 2:24 pm | Permalink

    Could taxpayers money be saved by merging the Financial Services Authority with the Food Standards Agency?

    It could be re-designated as the FFSA.

  31. Posted February 10, 2013 at 3:08 pm | Permalink

    “Woken up on a Sunday”. The Horror! Wouldn’t that violate the Human Rights of the Commisioner?

  32. Posted February 10, 2013 at 3:09 pm | Permalink

    This is off message but it is reported in the Telegraph today by Christopher Booker the true origins of the Gay Marriage and its indecent haste to the statute book without public mandate:
    It gets further mention by Janet Daley who reports the upset of many Tory MP’s frustrated by their leaders push for the Gay Marriage legislation:
    Once again your leaders have been totally disingenuous. How can any decent person want to vote for the mainstream parties when they are so deceitful and dishonest?
    Its all part of the FCO briefing paper 10/3048 that guides as follows:
    Because the original FCO advice (10/3048 of 1971) on matters appertaining to our membership of the EEC/EU is still applied by successive governments. The advice was that potentially controversial policies which emanate from the EEC/EU should not have their source identified. Successive governments would have to take the flak rather than ‘blame’ Europe in order to suppress dissent and ensure that the project could be advanced without the British people really understanding what was happening.
    EVERY UK government since Heath has followed this advice. It applies to trivial things – like the pasty tax in last year’s Budget – to gay marriage. The source of the law/regulation must never be divulged.

    • Posted February 10, 2013 at 6:28 pm | Permalink

      Why do our legislators allow judges of the ECHR to make our laws? What are legislators for, if their work is done for them by an assortment of civil servants in Brussels and judges in Strasbourg?

      Had Cameron not railroaded this legislation through parliament, we would still have had to recognise ‘gay marriages’ transacted in other EU countries by British citizens and others as these would presumably have constituted legal contracts here, so the necessary legal framework to document the marriages of transgendered persons and various others with ‘right to family life’ would have had to be undertaken.

      • Posted February 10, 2013 at 7:55 pm | Permalink

        If the laws are violating the ECHR then they need to be updated before more people start suing the UK for compensation. Also being known as a country where human rights abuses are tolerated isn’t a good thing.

  33. Posted February 10, 2013 at 3:30 pm | Permalink

    We all know the EU has a heavyweight bloated bureaucracy and that in practice many EU countries choose which rules they will follow.

    UK MEPs should push for the meat’s country of origin to be marked on the packet and not allow countries anonymity “lost in the noise of the EU”.

    We could then choose which products we buy on that basis and that very little Romanian beef would bought by UK consumers. The supply chain also needs to be regulated under UK law to make it much shorter and in order to improve transparency of origin.

  34. Posted February 10, 2013 at 3:34 pm | Permalink

    On the subject of care for the elderly. Ignoring the merits of the scheme for native UK citizens who have paid in all their working lives:-

    Presumably while we remain int the EU it will be ok for a self employed Romanian to come here, work for a year or two and then bring in his elderly mum and dad for us to pay for care at full cost (to us)?

  35. Posted February 10, 2013 at 3:46 pm | Permalink

    Oh yes …


    Horse Passport Agency established in 2003; every horse, pony, donkey, mule and zebra must have one.

    But not in Romania, apparently.

    Maybe this is why the UK Food Standards Agency stopped testing for horsemeat about a decade ago.

    • Posted February 10, 2013 at 6:52 pm | Permalink

      I would imagine that these are regulated by their Ministry of Transport; perhaps you could check the scrapping procedures for MOT failures.

  36. Posted February 10, 2013 at 5:24 pm | Permalink

    Let me now tease Mr. Redwood a little: In our village there still is a “horse butcher” i.e. a shop where you can buy various meats, including horse meat (actually doesn’t taste that awful)
    I recently read in this blog that for the Singel Market, it should be sufficient for a product which is accepted in one country to be sold in any country (within the EU). So if the Dutch were not particular about the content in their burgers (I write “were”as I honestly don’t know for sure) such burgers should be readily marketed in the UK as well, according to the deregulatory tendences in this blog!
    Be relieved thought, that, as far as I’m concerned, we’ll just send you cheeseburgers, much nicer, tastier and better for the environment too!

    Reply: The offer for sale product is a good idea, but does require that you describe it honestly!

    • Posted February 11, 2013 at 5:46 am | Permalink

      Reply to reply. A commercial attempt at “honesty”:
      “Come eat our read-meat-low-fat burger, the leanest in Britain, both for your heart and purse!“
      The leanest cows have queued up to become part of this new red-meat burger, which is offered some 20% cheaper than the ordinary fast-food beef burger. Is that because it contain more fat? No less, only 10% animal fat!
      Contents: red meat 50 %, animal fat 5%, whole wheat flour 30 %, etc. . . .
      (imagine that in my country such a content specification would be legal, and that we’re, thanks to you, free from any EU consumer protection over-regulation 🙂 )

      • Posted February 11, 2013 at 9:52 am | Permalink

        You’re struggling, Peter.

        • Posted February 11, 2013 at 12:30 pm | Permalink

          @Denis Cooper: if you mean my typing error (“read” should be “red”) you’re absolutely correct. I have been polite though, e.g not making any references to bse-burgers. What interests me most that this whole row may underline the need for good regulation across the Single Market to make it work.

          • Posted February 11, 2013 at 4:36 pm | Permalink

            No, I didn’t mean your typing error.

          • Posted February 12, 2013 at 10:33 am | Permalink

            French restaurants often put on their menus that their beef is sourced from France or Germany, ie. not British, and suffering from the after effects of BSE or Manitou as it was known in France. They even put a little french flag on a stick stuck into the steak.

  37. Posted February 10, 2013 at 6:10 pm | Permalink

    The latest contribution by Richard North to this whole debate is online tonight, where he analyse and criticises the Observer for their lack of knowledge with regard to regulation of the horsemeat industry. The Observer apparently criticises Owen Paterson demanding he introduces more legislation, but in fact he has no effective power to do this because our meat industry is regulated by the EU, which declares that the “food business operator” is best placed to “devise a safe system” and has “primary legal responsibility for ensuring food safety”
    “Horsemeat scandal: wanting it both ways”
    “…But the demand for “more regulation” belies not only the current state, it also ignores the source of regulation in a field which is an exclusive EU competence. Calls for more regulation should be addressed to the European Commission, not Owen Paterson – who has been quite open in stating that food law is precisely that, an exclusive EU competence. …….in stating that the “ultimate responsibility” rests with retailers, the eurosceptic Paterson is doing no more than re-stating EU law. This is set out in Regulation (EC) No 178/2002 “laying down the general principles and requirements of food law, establishing the European Food Safety Authority and laying down procedures in matters of food safety”, where Recital 30 declares:
    ‘A food business operator is best placed to devise a safe system for supplying food and ensuring that the food it supplies is safe; thus, it should have primary legal responsibility for ensuring food safety…'”

    On the subject of organised crime, Richard North implies that it is inevitable with the system devised as it is as present. He states that it is the type of regulation, not the actual scale of regulation that is at fault:
    “….On this subject, we have so far written three pieces: Let them eat horse; criminal negligence; and a porous network – this is the fourth. A constant theme of these pieces is that this horse meat scandal represents an egregious failure of the EU system of regulation. It is to this that The Observer should be looking – not at the scale of regulation, but THE TYPE (of regulation), which is designed to secure the free circulation of goods within the internal market.

    Separately, though, the newspaper reports on “international fraud by mafia gangs”, but there is not the least recognition that this situation is the inevitable consequence of the EU regulatory regimes.

    When, on the one hand, the food industry is mandated, by way of regulation, to adopt a paper-based system of control (HACCP) and, on the other, to work within an international environment where border checks have been abolished, and when the national authorities are required to vest “ultimate responsibility” for food controls with the food businesses, the system is wide open for exploitation by criminals. All the traditional controls have been dismantled…
    With very few exceptions, even eurosceptics are failing to see the links between the EU and the horsemeat scandal. But, if national governments are blamed every time an EU system goes wrong, we will never get any further in beating the monster.”

    • Posted February 10, 2013 at 8:01 pm | Permalink

      Given that the UK can make any law that doesn’t oppose an EU law there’s no problem with making additional laws or more stringent laws.

      Also this scandal could have been avoided if companies actually tested the products they sold, rather than just having blind faith in their supplier.

      • Posted February 10, 2013 at 10:33 pm | Permalink

        Given Uni we cannot pass a UK law which bans imports of foreign products without EU acceptance what real powers do we have.
        On your testing point, firstly the products were imported labelled as pasing all EU requirements and secondly DNA testing is not as easy as you suggest.
        To test takes time and you have to know what you are tesing for.
        You dont just take a small sample and then a computer says what is there
        I think youve been watching to many CSI Miami programmes.

        • Posted February 11, 2013 at 3:38 pm | Permalink

          Firstly being labelled as passing EU requirements doesn’t prevent them being tested further.

          Secondly determining which animal a DNA sample is from is much easier than trying to determine whether a DNA sample belongs to a specific person.

          Thirdly you would know what you’re testing for; you’re testing whether the product contains what it says on the label.

          Fourthly there are ways to tell what a products contains other than DNA testing, which is how scientists are able to determine the presence of substances that don’t have any DNA such as arsenic.

          • Posted February 11, 2013 at 7:01 pm | Permalink

            Do you just guess Uni,
            Wrong as usual,
            You can’t test at importation if EU passed and approved.
            If you test for beef you will only find if beef is present.

      • Posted February 11, 2013 at 9:59 am | Permalink

        As much as may grieve people like you – I’ll save JR the trouble of editing out the other words I’m inclined to use – the UK Parliament remains sovereign and has the right to make or unmake any law whatever, no matter whether it supports or opposes anything which has come from the EU. All we need to do is elect MPs who will remember that and act upon it when necessary, rather than people like you.

        • Posted February 11, 2013 at 2:04 pm | Permalink

          No, it doesn’t. It has agreed to follow the EU in many areas, where the UK has signed away it’s sovereignty. Countries cannot individually test and ban products approved for EU distribution, remember the breast implants scandal only a year ago?? (see my note below too)

          • Posted February 12, 2013 at 11:03 am | Permalink

            See my reply to unanime5 below.

            If the present Attorney-General can vote for Parliament to exercise its sovereignty by authorising the disapplication of EU laws, then clearly in his legal opinion that sovereignty has not been “signed away” and still endures but is just not being exercised when it should be.

            Mind you, that was when he was in Opposition, and now that he has attained office his legal opinion may have changed.

            Although I think Bill Cash recently reminded David Lidington of that vote in 2006, and the latter said something to the effect that he would still vote the same way.

        • Posted February 11, 2013 at 3:40 pm | Permalink

          As long as the UK wishes to remain in the EU it must obey EU law.

          In any case you ignored my point that the presence of EU doesn’t prevent the UK from making more stringent laws, most likely because it contradicts your belief that the EU is a threat to British democracy.

          • Posted February 11, 2013 at 7:05 pm | Permalink

            Thats a illogical circular argument Uni,
            First you are saying in posts on here that we can and should re- test, then you are saying we can pass new laws to do so, then you say we have to obey all EU laws.

          • Posted February 12, 2013 at 10:03 am | Permalink

            Who are you, little person, to say:

            “As long as the UK wishes to remain in the EU it must obey EU law”?

            On May 16th 2006 the present Attorney-General voted for an amendment whereby Parliament would have expressly authorised ministers to disapply EU laws, a proposal which reflects the position of Parliament as the supreme legal authority for the United Kingdom and which moreover has been endorsed in principle by the highest courts in the land.

            You can see his name amongst the “Ayes” for Division No 239 here:


            I’m sometimes tempted by the idea of Parliament passing a law making it treason for anyone to deny its sovereignty, but I suppose that would a retrograde restriction on free speech.

            Why should we dissipate our efforts on more stringent testing of all meat products in the UK, when clearly the problem is being imported and the more stringent testing should be concentrated on imports?

    • Posted February 11, 2013 at 9:00 pm | Permalink

      Waiting for the final installment – Lions fed by donkeys. How to destroy trust in a food supply chain!

  38. Posted February 10, 2013 at 7:10 pm | Permalink

    This afternoon:


    “Appearing on BBC1’s Sunday Politics show, Mr Paterson repeated his vow to get to the bottom of the scandal, which he has suggested is part of an international criminal conspiracy.

    He said: “This week obviously we’ll be talking to counterparts across Europe, because ultimately this is European Union incompetence.”

    But asked if there should be a moratorium on meat imports in the EU, he said: “That is not allowed within the European common market.

    “If they find there is a product which could potentially be injurious to public health, emphatically, I will take the necessary action.”

    Asked if he would consider a ban if tests proved there was a food safety risk, he said: “If there is a threat to public health that is allowed within the rules of the European market.” ”

    So this is how we counter “an international criminal conspiracy”.

  39. Posted February 10, 2013 at 8:01 pm | Permalink

    The EU creates standards that all EU countries have to obey in order to sell food within the EU, it cannot magically make every company in the EU obey these standards any more than the UK can make all UK companies obey UK law. The blame lies with the Romanian companies that chose to ignore these regulations, and the UK companies who didn’t question why the meat they got was so cheap or bother to check it; not the EU for being unable to stop this.

    • Posted February 10, 2013 at 10:36 pm | Permalink

      Responsiblity lies with the organisiation in charge.
      Stop trying to pass the buck.
      You seem always desperate to pass the blame onto anyone except the EU.

      • Posted February 11, 2013 at 3:42 pm | Permalink

        How exactly is the EU in charge of private companies?

        The blame lies with these companies for ignoring these regulations, not the EU for making these regulations. You seem always desperate to pass the blame onto anyone except the private sector.

        • Posted February 11, 2013 at 7:12 pm | Permalink

          I realise you have never worked for yourself or employed anyone but consider this
          If you had your own shop and you bought in meat officially labelled as beef from a well known regular supplier and simply sold it on to your customers would you think it fair that you would be held totally responsible if that beef was not 100% beef.
          How would you go about testing it, every single time it came into you?
          Would you have your own laboratory in the back of your shop?

          • Posted February 12, 2013 at 1:46 pm | Permalink

            This is your defence of large supermarkets? Putting the market into ‘the market’? See how far that one runs.

      • Posted February 11, 2013 at 4:56 pm | Permalink

        So who’s fault would it be if there was no EU or food inspections. The consumer?

        • Posted February 11, 2013 at 7:15 pm | Permalink

          Fantasy because there is an EU and there are food standard agency inspectors all over Europe who’s job it is to licence, inspect and control.

  40. Posted February 10, 2013 at 9:56 pm | Permalink

    I would love to comment on this but I best not (beyond what I have already said in another of Mr Redwood’s blogs), other than to say that I might have more than mere opinions, make of that ‘statement’ what you like!…

    • Posted February 12, 2013 at 1:44 pm | Permalink

      Not in the mafia are we Jerry?

  41. Posted February 10, 2013 at 10:37 pm | Permalink

    Action my be desired but expect a shortage of meat and more food inflation.

    As with lightbulbs that blow after two days, light switches that *pop* within three years – doorbells that do the same, matches that take three to strike a light, pork that cooks down to nothing, packets of crisps that are virtually empty …

    You only get what you pay for and that, it seems, is the cheap ‘beef’ that the population has been chowing down on. Inflation is not what it seems. It’s far worse than the official figures indicate in fact.

    Slightly off topic: Proposed ‘fat’ taxes will be highly unfair on those who are not fat during these straitened times. Why not put BMI testers at checkouts and work out if someone is obese enough to pay a fat tax there ?

    In any case. Isn’t obesity a sign of poverty nowadays ? Should there be a tax on poverty ? (Tongue in cheek)

  42. Posted February 11, 2013 at 12:43 am | Permalink

    The ultimate sanction eh, John ?? To be woken on a Sunday morning !! I do agree with the broad sweep of your comments though. We need to regain control of our own food and agriculture industries et al.

  43. Posted February 11, 2013 at 7:39 am | Permalink

    ” Maybe it is time a Commissioner was woken up on a Sunday morning and made to answer.~”


  44. Posted February 11, 2013 at 8:48 am | Permalink

    Lt’s not forget that it was a Conservative Government that signed us up to this. And it has been successive Conservative Government’s that have transferred more and more power to the EU and refuse to get it back.

    The idea that a mega-Bureaucracy in Brussels can control agriculture across most of the continent and regulate standards in countries which have massively different levels of food production, hygiene, animal husbandry and (let’s face it) criminal activity is laughable.

    Yet that’s what the UK Establishment seems to believe.

    And we have a Conservative Minister blandly announcing that he can do nothing to stop the importation of meat from the EU when they don’t even know what KIND of meat it is, let alone whether it is contaminated. For all they know, it could be bush-meat; it could be human flesh. THEY DON’T KNOW.

    • Posted February 11, 2013 at 10:01 am | Permalink

      Yes, of the three main parties the Tory party is the most guilty by far.

  45. Posted February 11, 2013 at 9:50 am | Permalink

    Its yet another reason to add to the ever longer list of reasons to quit the EU. We should still be able to import beef etc but our own authorities like the FSA need to be able to control standards and compliance.

    Its quite simple really – surely it cant be beyond us to have a free trading block whilst retaining all national competencies at NATIONAL level.

    How on earth has Norway managed to get by?

  46. Posted February 11, 2013 at 10:31 am | Permalink

    I’m not sure you are correct.

    My understanding of EU public sector procurement rules is that if the product meets the specification and is better on price, you have to buy it, otherwise you are illegaly disciminating against a foreign supplie, and you are open to legal action.

    • Posted February 11, 2013 at 3:45 pm | Permalink

      Companies are not required to buy from the cheapest supplier, they just can’t favour domestic companies over other EU companies.

      • Posted February 12, 2013 at 9:26 am | Permalink

        Agree, you don’t always have to take the cheapest bid.

        But in public sector and big private companies, the procurement process is tightly constrained and very “tick box”. It’s dificult to move too much away from the cheapest bid on any kind of subjective opinion of product quality. It has to been on some defined measure of quality, which the bad guys can potentially game.

  47. Posted February 11, 2013 at 10:44 am | Permalink

    I’m not familiar with the food industry. But assuming the issues are the same as sectors that I am familiar with, what has happened is a typical outcome of continental style regulation. In a nutshell, it’s replacing traditional UK-style simple functional regulation that government can and should check by occassional inspection with an elaborate fantasy-based paperwork structure – which very predictably doesn’t work.

  48. Posted February 11, 2013 at 11:11 am | Permalink

    Prior to joining the Single Market, the UK government could carry out checks on the imported meat at customs. Now we can’t, so this is bound to happen.

    • Posted February 11, 2013 at 3:46 pm | Permalink

      The UK can still carry out the checks, the only difference is that domestic meat has to be subject to the same checks.

      • Posted February 12, 2013 at 9:20 am | Permalink

        We cannot carry out the same checks – i.e. on import. We can carry out more checks at other points in the supply process. But, as you say, they have to be “random” or at least not favouring domestic producers. This is obviously going to be much less effecient than targetting imports from “dodgy” countries, where you know from experience (or can just make a reasonable guess) problems occur . Whatever test budget you have is finite, so it leaves us in a significantly worse position.

  49. Posted February 11, 2013 at 11:15 am | Permalink

    Blame may well lie with Romanian and other companies. But because the UK is in the EU, I have no-one to democratically hold to account over the lack of regulatory supervision and enforcement that let them get away with it. The UK Minister says he is powerless.

  50. Posted February 11, 2013 at 11:31 am | Permalink

    We don’t eat processed food either. But I’m not being smug about it. There’s another scandal ( legal or illegal ) over how “meat” is processed – the volume of bulking fluid that is injected which is of composition unknown to the consumer, and who knows – unknown to the authorities as well ?

  51. Posted February 11, 2013 at 1:42 pm | Permalink

    Far better to do as much as we can, then highlight the failure of the EC to act.

    That is the best way to ensure that the long list of EU competences and joint competences established on completion of the Lisbon Treaty is gradually whittled down. Solid evidence that the EU doesn’t care what we eat and doesn’t care about criminal behaviour will help our cause.

  52. Posted February 11, 2013 at 1:58 pm | Permalink

    Absolutely correct, John. Remember when breast implants were being made from industrial silicone? They were approved at EU level, so there was no ‘requirement’ to test them at country level. In fact it was worse than that, you could test them at country level, but even failing local tests would not be enforceable, a country could not ban them, because they had already been approved at EU level.
    Every day I wonder more and more at the damage the EU does to Britain, and how long will it still take for us to leave??

    • Posted February 12, 2013 at 1:41 pm | Permalink

      This justifies companies and supermarkets selling horse meat as beef? Blind anti EU propaganda from some I can’t imagine how he keeps his job. Whato!

      • Posted February 12, 2013 at 11:41 pm | Permalink

        If you ran a shop selling meat would you now re test at your expense all your purchases despite them having been passed as OK by the EU and you having paperwork stating this fact?
        Dont you trust the higher authority which is the EU when they state its OK to sell?

        • Posted February 13, 2013 at 2:50 pm | Permalink

          Large multinational supermarkets don’t’ ‘just run a shop’ as much as they would like you to believe this.

  • About John Redwood

    John Redwood won a free place at Kent College, Canterbury, and graduated from Magdalen College Oxford. He is a Distinguished fellow of All Souls, Oxford. A businessman by background, he has set up an investment management business, was both executive and non executive chairman of a quoted industrial PLC, and chaired a manufacturing company with factories in Birmingham, Chicago, India and China. He is the MP for Wokingham, first elected in 1987.

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