Professor Tony Hines, head of corporate services and crisis management at Leatherhead Food Research, told the Institute of Food Science and Technology’s Jubilee conference, earlier this month (Wednesday May 14): “The ‘horsegate’ scandal was a bit of a laugh when it first came out.
For the first 24 hours, [joke text] messages [were sent], horses were running down the aisles of Tesco saying ‘where’s mummy’? – it was just funny before it arrived in Downing Street, Westminster and it became political.”
It was not surprising that fraudsters had used horsemeat as a substitute for beef, because they had engaged in similar practices for a long time, Hines added.
‘Forgot about it’
“We knew that beef was being substituted with horsemeat, but like many other commentators we just forgot about it.
“We thought it had gone away, perhaps it had for a while, but maybe this is the return of it.”
He added that every food product you could think of presented opportunities for fraudsters to substitute an ingredient, adulterate or mislabel a product to mislead consumers.
“Fraud is not just about horsemeat … the amount of extra virgin oil produced by Italy is far less than is claimed to be sold across the world and many of you will remember wine being sweetened with anti-freeze to make the wine cheaper.”