Margaret Ritchie, South Down SDLP MP, who sits on the Westminster EFRA Committee, has welcomed today’s release of the report into food security by Professor Elliot from Queen’s University, Belfast.
Speaking about the report Ms Ritchie said: “I would like to pay tribute to Professor Elliot for producing this valuable and comprehensive report into an issue that urgently needs to be addressed. This report provides a sounds basis for progress and I hope that the UK government now acts on it. It is encouraging that they have already started to implement some of the proposals but they have to follow this through. The report also clearly states that government cuts have prevented trading standard’s bodies from being able to properly investigate fraud and protect the public.
“The meat contamination scandal shook public confidence in the food industry and asked serious questions about the wider food chain. Professor Elliot criticises the original investigation into the scandal due to the regulator not having sufficient experience of these issues and this clearly needs to be addressed. “The establishment of a Food Crime Unit is a positive move, as food crime and fraud needs to be treated as a serious threat to public health. This report highlights that all food producer and retailers were impacted by this scandal and makes a clear recommendation that retailers should now have an onus to prove they have checked for adulteration or fraud. I also welcome the introduction of a more intensive testing regime with unannounced audits and a whistleblowing system. “This is a global problem that involves international criminal networks, so it is absolutely vital that the Irish and British government’s co-ordinate their approach on food security, working with EU partners to ensure that the public can have absolute confidence that the food they eat is safe and properly labelled. “I will continue to use my role on the Westminster EFRA Committee to ensure that the government implement these recommendations in full and restore full public confidence in the food on our table,” added Ms Ritchie.]]>