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'Horsegate' (continued)

The media preoccupation with every twist and turn of the ‘Horsegate’ saga continued and looks set to run and run.

‘Horsegate’ continued to fascinate the media, who gleefully reported each new discovery of ‘contaminated’ product. 

The news that samples of Asda ‘Smart Price’ Corned Beef contained traces of ‘bute’  or phenylbutazone, a veterinary drug frequently prescribed for horses, received wide coverage in recent days: 

A statement by Asda that the substance was detected at ‘very low levels’ seems to have done little to diminish media interest.   

The Food Standards Agency have issued regular information regarding their test results which have revealed that less than 1% of beef products analysed contained the presence of ‘equine DNA’ above the 1% threshold. 

The discovery of ‘pork DNA’ in halal sausages being served in a school in West London served as further evidence of lack of proper controls in the processing meat industry: 

The official results of testing for ‘horsemeat contamination’ in beef products across the EU are expected shortly. In advance of their publication, the BBC and others reported that the Dutch authorities had issued an alert that around 50,000 tonnes of potentially contaminated product had been sold throughout Europe to around 500 customers since January 2011. It was also reported that eight UK companies may have bought product from two Dutch wholesalers ( Wiljo Import en Export BV & Vleesgroothandel Willy Selten). 

A plethora of market reports and comment have been released, invariably suggesting the future demise of the processed meat industry. The Consumer Association released information that 30% of consumers would buy less processed meat and 24% less ready meals, via their Which? Report. 

Symphony IRI reported that, since the horsemeat ‘scare’ broke, sales of ready meals are no longer enjoying the consistent growth pattern of previous years but are now showing ‘year on year’ declines. 

Mintel provided comfort to the home industry by reporting a surge in ‘Buy British Meat’ sentiment since the beginning of the year. 

However, Andrew Rhodes of the Food Standards Agency challenged the announcement of many retailers about ‘shortening’ supply chains by buying more local rather than imported product. He said that the issue was not a simple question of shortening supply chains but rather addressing their complexity.