4 Conclusion |
43. The findings to date are likely to be the tip
of the iceberg. Given the scale of the problem already revealed,
it is unlikely that there will be a single source of the contaminant.
In this report we have set out our preliminary findings, but we
fully expect to take further evidence. There are many questions
that need to be answered about how the particular incidences of
contamination occurred and whether the controls currently in place
are appropriate and sufficient. This scandal has also raised broader
food policy questions about cheap food production, transparency,
consumer confidence and pressures within the supply chain. There
are also implications for food production in the UKfarmers
are concerned that they comply with high welfare and quality standards
but are undercut by cheap produce from overseas. While this
is primarily a food labelling issue, the suggestion of fraud on
a massive scale, suggests that measures must be put in place now
to prevent any further contaminated meat entering the food chain.
The Government will need to consider its role in achieving the
correct balance between affordable food prices and regulations
that ensure transparency and quality. We are concerned that the
consumer will be caught in a Catch 22 between paying the costs
of higher traceability, labelling and testing standards or having
to accept that they will not be provided with comprehensive information
about the provenance and composition of the food that they eat.
The strong indications that people have intentionally substituted
horsemeat for beef leads us to conclude that British consumers
have been cynically and systematically duped in pursuit of profit
by elements within the food industry.