Findus find 100% horsemeat, 8th February 2013
All processed beef products were ordered to be tested for authenticity after it was revealed that Findus found up to 100% horse meat in 11 out of 18 beef lasagnes tested. Findus was then ordered to test its lasagnes for bute, the anti-inflammatory veterinary drug used to treat lame horses (banned from use in humans), although there was thought to be no food safety risk.
UK Plants Raided, 13th February
Two UK meat plants – a slaughterhouse in West Yorkshire and Farmbox Meats in Aberystwyth, were raided by Food Standard Agency (FSA) officials and police. The FSA stated that their investigations into the scandal would be “relentless” and would continue until “there was nothing left to find”.
EFRA Committee conclusions, 14 February, 2013
The Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (EFRA) Committee concluded that the current testing arrangements had failed and recommended that the FSA should be given statutory powers to require testing, that all test results should be reported to the FSA and that a broader range of testing should take place.
Supermarkets Hit Back , 15 February, 2013
A letter sent to the government expressed the outrage felt by 11 firms – including Tesco and Asda; “We can't accept a situation where the trust customers place in us is being compromised by fraudulent activity or even as alleged, an international criminal conspiracy,”.
Neilson research shows sales plummet, 19th February
Frozen burger sales fell by 40% year-on-year in the week ending 2 February 2013 although the majority of the decline was seen in private-label products. 74% of consumers were concerned by the horsemeat scandal, although the majority said they were concerned about incorrect labelling, rather than about having eaten horsemeat.
Further test results, 22nd February
Results of further Food Standards Agency tests showed that 99% of the tested 3,599 products containing no horse DNA at or above the level of 1% and the veterinary drug bute had to this date not been found in any of the tested products.
Birds Eye and Sainsburys results revealed, 22nd February
Birds Eye withdrew three ready meals after its chili con carne (only sold in Belgium) proved to contain 2% horsemeat. Sainsbury's revealed that all tests on their processed beef products have returned negative results.
EU Commission fast-tracks meat labelling, 26th February
The EU Agriculture Council met in Brussels, where ministers from all 27 Member States discussed the horsemeat scandal, calling it a “cross-border criminal problem”. The European Commission agreed to speed up the publication of its paper on options for country-of-origin labelling of processed meat products.
NFU Conference, 17th February
NFU president Peter Kendall stated "Farmers have been furious” as they have spent many years working to ensure the British supply chain is fully traceable, including assurance schemes such as Red Tractor, whilst Tesco announced a new commitment to source more meat from the UK and to put cameras in its supply chain to allow shoppers to see where their food has come from.
New research says consumers want more British food, 27th February
The National Farmers Union released new research which showed consumers want to see more British food on supermarket shelves and in restaurants. According to the NFU’s statistics, more than 86% of shoppers are as likely, or more likely, to want to buy more traceable food that has been produced on British farms, while a further 78% ‘strongly’ agreed that supermarkets should sell more food from British farms.
Polish plant tests positive, 28th February
The Polish General Veterinary Inspectorate announced that three samples taken from meat storage facilities bore races of horsemeat and further samples were yet to be examined. Irish burger processor Rangeland foods, UK meat trader McAdam and German suppliers, Dreistern-Konserven and Vossko all claimed that they had sourced the meat from Poland.
Tesco announces greater support for British food, 1st March
Tesco announced a new commitment to source more meat from the UK. In advertisements across the national press, the supermarket chain’s chief executive, Philip Clarke, promised to source more British food and that by July this year all chicken sold by the company will come from British farms, with pork products to follow shortly after.
A statement on the British Retail Consortium website said 361 tests on 103 products in the previous week by the UK's major supermarket chains “have produced no new positive results” for horsemeat.
Quality Meat Scotland revealed the results of a survey done on 300 members of the Scotch Butcher's Club, which showed that 92% of UK butchers have experienced an increase in custom since the horse meat scandal started, 66% of that 92% reported a 10-20% increase, with 23% reporting a 20-30% increase.
Beef meals were removed from the menu of 17 schools in Northamptonshire after traces of horse meat was found in one of the 10 tests done by Northamptonshire County Council. It was found in a supplier's frozen minced beef.
Owen Paterson announced that he would not be revealing the name of the Sodexo supplier “in case the investigations are impinged upon”. Sodexo – who provide food for public services including the armed forces, schools, care homes and prisons – withdrew all frozen beef products on 22 February following the discovery of horse DNA in one of the samples it had tested. On 14 March, the Vestey Food Group confirmed it had supplied contaminated meat to Sodexo.
Tesco announced horsemeat had been found in its own-brand value meatloaf, making it the fourth product the company has sold that contains horse DNA
A third of people surveyed by Which? said they were buying less processed meat since the horse meat scandal broke, whilst a quarter said they trusted the food industry less. Of the 2,000 consumers who took party in the survey, 50% said they were not confident that ingredient information on products was accurate.
Philip Clark, CEO of Tesco, re-iterated the points he made at the NFU conference a few weeks earlier, when he opened the new Institute for Global Food Security at Queen's University in Belfast, stating:
“I have committed Tesco to sourcing as much as we reasonably can in the UK and Ireland. It's what our customers want, and we want to work with the farming community to increase capacity for the production of meat and poultry in the UK, so we can meet the demand from our customers to want to see it produced closer to home.
Already all the beef in all our products sold in the UK and Ireland comes from the UK and Ireland and I announced two weeks ago that all our chicken – fresh, frozen and in ready meals – sold in the UK will come from the British Isles too. We're going to have to work hard to help our partners in the farming community plan with more certainty for the future by offering longer contracts to all our suppliers who want them.”
Pork DNA is found in St Mary's school's halal chicken sausages. The DNA was discovered after Westminster Council commissioned its own food tests after the horse meat scandal broke.
Leading child nutritionist, Dr Charlotte Evans, warned that up to 10% more children are likely to change to packed lunches, as a reaction to the horse meat scandal. Just 1% of packed lunches meet basic dietary standards, according to a study by Leeds University in 2010.
Tesco announce two year contract pledge to British Farmers
FSA publish results that reveal products from 17 retailers, including Asda, Aldi, the Co-operative and Tesco, were found to contain horse meat. One product, Asda's Smart Price Corned Beef, was found to contain low levels of bute. It was also revealed that one in four meat products tested by the Food Standards Agency last year contained traces of the “wrong” animal.
The FSA announce that an investigation is to be launched to look into the adulteration of beef products and that it will review its handling of the horse meat scandal. It is to be led by Professor Pat Troop, vice-chair of Cambridge University Hospitals.
There is evidence to suggest business at traditional butchers' shops may have increased as much as 30% and that sales of all frozen foods are down 13%, compared with last year.
Europe's horse meat scandal is described as “a matter of food fraud and not food safety”, by the European Commission, after random tests showed nearly 5% of tested beef contained positive horse meat traces.
Horse meat is found in Iceland's diced beef steak. The frozen food retailer claims “the affected product was manufactured nearly one year ago, and that the supplier had not been used since last November after tests by veterinary authorities in the Czech Republic unveiled the equine DNA.”
Ikea confirm plans to return its ‘withdrawn’ meatballs to its shelves and in-store restaurants, re-labelled to warn of actual contents.
A meat provenance app is launched for smartphones. The ‘Where's this from’ app enables consumers to scan a packet of meat to discover its provenance and the name of the slaughterhouse that supplied the product to the supermarket.
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