FUW calls for 'refocus on quality and traceability' of meat

IN the wake of the horse meat scandal the Farmers Union of Wales wants local authorities to “go back to basics” and respect food, producers and consumers.

“Making sure all labelling meets the high standards of Protected Geographical Indication for Welsh beef and lamb would mark a significant step towards achieving this,” says union president, Emyr Jones, in a letter to all Welsh local authority and health board chief executives.

Revelations regarding horse meat entering a variety of food chains, including some for which local authorities were responsible, had caused significant anger among Welsh farmers, he adds.

Above all the issue had highlighted the potential dangers in terms of fraudulently misleading consumers and threats to human health of procurement policies which did little more than pay lip-service to quality and provenance.

“For many years, the FUW has highlighted the direct contrast between Welsh Government food strategies aimed at supporting and boosting Welsh produce and the Welsh economy, and procurement processes implemented at every level of Welsh government which fly in the face of those strategies and do anything but lead by example,” says the letter.

“While public procurement law has consistently been used as a scapegoat for those authorities supplying non-Welsh produce to Welsh consumers, such arguments do not stand up to scrutiny.

“That is particularly so when one considers that authorities and educational bodies across the EU are able to specify local and quality produce during the procurement process.

“The ultimate irony is that Welsh children and Welsh hospital patients may have been regularly eating New Zealand lamb, despite being surrounded by animals reared in accordance with strict traceability and welfare rules which are second to none.

“The FUW believes that all those involved in supply chains, including local and health authorities, must reassess the way in which they procure food.

“In essence, the revelations of recent months must be regarded as a warning about the dangers of pursuing previous policies and a turning point which results in a refocus on provenance, quality and traceability.”

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