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DEFRA and the Food Standards
Agency are investigating claims that
they were warned nearly two years
ago about horse meat entering the
food chain in the UK and failings
with horse passports.

John Young, a former manager at
the Meat Hygiene Service, now part of
the Food Standards Agency (FSA), told
the Sunday Times he helped draft a letter
to DEFRA in April that year but it had
been ignored.

The letter warned the government
that its passport scheme, designed to
stop meat with medicines’ residues,
including phenylbutazone, getting into
the food chain, was a “debacle”.

“DEFRA gave nearly 80
organisations the authority to produce
passports and some of them are little
better than children could produce…
It’s a complete mess,” he said.

DEFRA responded in mid February
that the horse passports issue was
unrelated to horse meat being
fraudulently passed off as beef.

The chief executive of World Horse
Welfare, Roly Owers, said the charity
had also warned the government in

2011 about the inadequacies of the
horse passport system. He said the
whole European trade in horses was
mired in inadequate laws and needless
suffering, with the elephant in the room
being the spread of infectious equine

One reader told Veterinary Practice
that at least some of the problems with
meat could be traced back to the merger
of the Meat Hygiene Service with the
FSA on 1st April 2010.

It was reported (as this issue went to press) that ministers were
planning to abandon plans to opt out of
new EU regulations requiring producers
and retailers to state exactly what is in
their mincemeat.

In other “animal welfare” issues:

  • there has been little support for the
    BVA’s proposal that all anthelmintics
    should be classified POM-V. The VMD
    responded to the BVA that only last
    December it had indicated its
    willingness to work with AHDA and
    AMTRA in developing training modules
    on anthelmintic resistance for vets and
  • there has been a four-fold increase in
    the numbers of dogs found to have
    invalid pet passports, a recent meeting
    organised by Dogs Trust was told

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