As each day seems to bring new revelations about the extent of the horse meat scandal, we capture, in quotes, the views of leading British newspapers. Most focus on the role of the Food Standards Agency (FSA) ̶ with many questioning its future.
The Daily Mail: “They (FSA) blame EU legislation for not letting them ban imports of beef products, but suspect food has clearly been on our shelves for months, maybe years.
“Responsibility for not exposing the scandal earlier falls firmly at the door of DEFRA [Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs] and the FSA.”
The Daily Telegraph: “The safety and integrity of what we are sold may be a matter for the retailers and food businesses, and the FSA rightly wants to avoid being overly prescriptive with its rules and regulations. But we need to be convinced that it has the proper procedures in place to ensure the food on our table is what we thought it was.”
Independent columnist, Steve Richards: “We are now living through a global meat crisis. In the midst of a crisis, ministers wary of regulation are grateful to hide behind the protective shield of the regulator.
“Now the urgent question is whether the FSA is powerful enough, and not whether it should be abolished altogether.”
The Times: “You have almost certainly eaten a horse, or part of a horse, in the last few months, having been told that is was beef. And you were probably told it was actually not mere beef, but special, lovely beef.
“We have all eaten horse. And the truth is, if the mass producers of food could get away with selling us wolverine or kitten or rat, they would do it, until they got caught.”
The Observer: “The problem is not knowing how it [horse] got in there. And if we don't know how it got there, we don't know where it came from, how it lived or, more to the point, how it died.”
Guardian columnist, Tanya Gold: “Ignore the chatter about horsemeat being good for you; this is not an opportunity to amaze with pony recipes, but a vast fraud perpetrated, inevitably, against poorer consumers.”
The Mirror: “Horse meat slipped into burgers and lasagnes is a free-market failure as well as a criminal conspiracy. The playboy speculators who snapped up Findus should have their feet held over a fire to explain why the dodgy meals weren’t cleared quicker from supermarket shelves.
“The entire food production industry needs tougher regulation. The Food Standards Agency should be subbed the cash and the powers to check, check and check again.”
The Sun: “What’s the point of the Food Standards Agency? It’s one of those expensive quangos deemed essential to public safety.
“So how come it has been so slow out of the stalls on the horse meat scandal? The widening crisis suggests the public has been deceived on a massive scale under the agency’s nose.”
The Daily Express: “The most worrying part of the whole furore is what it reveals about the powerlessness of those to whom we grant a mandate to run the country.”
Meanwhile, Innocent Drinks tweeted today (February 13): “There are no traces of horse in any of our products. Might find a bit of zebra though. Hang on, that's a barcode. No need to panic.”
Are newspaper criticisms of the FSA justified? Or, has the agency done its best in the face of a hideously complicated meat supply chain?
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