Further Statement on Horsemeat In Wales

08 Mar

Written statement released today from Alun Davies AM, Deputy Minister for Agriculture, Food, Fisheries and European Programmes.

Following my written statement on the 26th February I would like to update members on the latest position on the contamination of beef products that first came to our attention on the 15th January.

My officials and I have consulted with other UK devolved administrations and the Food Standards Agency (FSA) and I am now reassured that we understand the breadth and depth of the problem. Consequently, I now believe that we need to put in place mechanisms and structures that will allow us to isolate and manage the problem whilst at the same time moving to recover from the incident and to reassure the general public that the food chain is fundamentally safe and secure. There is also a need to reflect on the events of the last few weeks and I, as well as the FSA, will be thinking of the long term implications of this incident and how we have responded to it.

On Wednesday I met with senior enforcement and procurement officers from local government and the Welsh Local Government Association to hear first hand how they have been dealing with these matters. It is clear to me that there has been a great deal of commitment from the whole of the Welsh public sector to work with industry and laboratories to tackle this issue and I would like to take this opportunity to thank everyone involved. With over 5400 tests completed in six weeks and with more tests to come, this is indeed testimony to the commitment of the industry to address concerns as quickly as possible. It is also appropriate that I extend my own gratitude to the FSA, who have provided significant support and leadership in managing the situation.

I have agreed with the WLGA and the FSA that we will work together to develop a more rigorous testing regime for the Welsh public sector to underpin and secure public confidence in future procurement arrangements. This will include a robust testing regime, an examination of the control and length of supply chain together with raising the awareness of the legal responsibilities incumbent on the supply sector that will guard against food fraud and wider food contamination issues in the public services supply chain. We must ensure the integrity of our food and the public must have confidence in the food they are consuming.  Welsh local authorities will reassert to all food businesses that the responsibility for producing food that is safe and accurately labelled sits with each and every food business, whether primary producer, processor, wholesaler or retailer.

I have already made a commitment to a review of the enforcement measures available to us in Wales. I may also wish to expand this work to see how the Welsh Government and other institutions have reacted to this incident. I will make a further announcement on this matter in due course where I will provide details on the scope and terms of reference of this review.

This incident has clearly had, and will continue to have, a significant effect on consumer attitudes. The FSA’s recent consumer survey found that consumer confidence in processed meat products has fallen considerably which in turn has affected actual sales figures and the viability of some processing businesses.

In my view the Government has a responsibility to address the issue of consumer confidence and we will continue to support our meat industry and to rebuild confidence amongst consumers.  Last Wednesday I began this process by launching a poster campaign for Welsh Lamb and Welsh Beef with Hybu Cig Cymru. On St David’s day I visited the Tesco store in Talbot Green to lend my support for the fantastic range of Welsh products available.

This has been a very difficult time for all aspects of the meat production industry and many people and businesses have suffered because of the potential negligence or criminality of a tiny minority. The Welsh Government will continue to support both the enforcement and regulatory regimes that are in place. We also continue to support the FSA and police investigations that are underway. We will now place our emphasis on rebuilding consumer confidence and putting in place measure to underpin that confidence.

So there you have the official version of how the Welsh Government are reacting to the horsemeat fiasco.

As you are aware I’m not impressed with HCC’s latest poster campaign, but it appears the Deputy Minster is, which is great news for HCC. Neither am I impressed that on St David’s Day our Deputy Minister visited a Tesco store and thought that worthy news to include in his statement. Well if I was in his shoes, heaven forbid I can hear you saying, I’d have visited as many independent butchers that I could, along with some farmers’ markets. Mr Davies’ team of civil servants must think his time is best spent supporting a large and powerful supermarket instead of those working at the tough end of the meat sector.……………………………


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  1. Trader

    March 8, 2013 at 6:33 pm

    Shutting the stable door after the horse….


  2. Hot Air Controller

    March 11, 2013 at 9:41 am

    Well I can only wish I was!
    You’ve got to the nub again with his pointless mention of Tesco in his relentless support of the supermarkets he desn’t seem to bothered about our dwindling high streets, so he can’t have a shop in one! Supermarkets and exports seem to be his reason for being. Another politician that is out-of-touch with the people that gave him power.
    In his next HOT AIR STATEMENT he’ll be spouting about how important Welsh food producers are to this economy, only we wont believe him as out festival budget continues to be cut and the bigger festivals get more and more money and the festivals aren’t really controllled with welsh producers a priority.
    It must be civil servants that are advising or telling our deputy man what to do, but they are not in touch with the grass roots of this industry. He needs to listen to you lot because you’d never have allowed an official response to come out and mention Tesco, you’d have had him in endless butchers shops and attending farmers markets, supporting us at the sharp end. The horsemeat scandal cannot really be on his radar otherwsie that would have been a priority. He appears to be paying only lip service to this shambles.
    Support your butchers. Not just with logos and a booklet. He’ll be telling us next that they are going to do another useless and ineffective poster campaign, or maybe A.N OTHER survey, great.
    Someone else needs to help us besides you, but please don’t you guys give up.
    trying to get a plan out of wag food and HCC is like ploughing through treacle but this is our livelihoods you’re threatening
    just listen to people who have their ear to the ground, that have the trust of many producers, then and only then can I feel hopeful of our future in food.

  3. producer

    March 11, 2013 at 3:55 pm

    well done Mr Minister for visiting Tesco on St David’s day – obviously St David’s day did not give you or your team a clue for supporting the welsh, or do you think Tesco really cares about wales,? If it couldn’t make moeny here they’d be off like a shot from a gun. Just hope you didn’t have to drive through any derelict high streets on your way to tesco but at least you wouldn’t have been held up by traffic there. Then there’s the free parking to enjoy at Tesco’s too, a bonus butchers shops rarely have as councils now make shoppers pay for parking in their towns and villages. But when we are all forced to close they can stick ion more charity shops and to heck with the businesses rates they have lost. Can you really blame busy people for taking advantage of free aprkling whilst they shop instead of worrying about a parking warden?
    Tesco aren’t based in Wales, they are just trying to kill off independent retailers across Wales and the UK. I’d love to know how much tax Tescos pays in the UK as well as how many off-shore accounts they have.
    Silly people like me would expect Welsh civil servants to support our businesses, but I’m stupid, they
    pander along with the councils to support the major supermarkets

  4. Mrs B

    March 12, 2013 at 9:42 am

    Well done dep minister, your support for Welsh local butchers is on a par with HCC – like nearly non-existant
    I guess HCC report to you which does make you both consistent in that neither of you have an interest in local butchers. I thought that was part of both your jobs but I’m wrong as it seems to be supermarkets and exports
    This report was spot on, it was local butchers you should have been visiting from the start of the horsemeat debacle, not sure if you’ve done that before or not. But you should have continued to visit them as the horsemeat rages on and on. You should have had the press at every local shop you went to, but guess your people couldn’t work out that it would have been a smart move. Instead your advisors put out IN PRINT that you went to Tesco on St David’s Day, Tesco’s and you seem proud of that.
    I simply cannot believe it.
    But couldn’t you call on butchers because HCC can’t tell you where many of us are?
    Since this started horsemeat started supermarkets have taken pages and pages and pages in every national newpaper, spending hundreds of thousands of £s telling people what great meat deals they have. Local butchers have not got any money spare to advertise what we are doing, but you and HCC can’t manage to do that for us – you go to a supermarket!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!Remind me what you are there for? Of course suppermakrets and exports.
    I’m appalled to read this statement and hope it goes in the magazine with some suitable comments about how supermarkets and exports seem to be wag and HCC’s focus. Welsh people really need to know what goes on behind the scenes. Well done mr supermarket man

  5. Mikey

    March 12, 2013 at 2:25 pm

    the comments that have been left are from the same hymn sheet and it’s the one I’m singing from.
    If the deputy minister believes he’s helping small traders, it sure don’t look like it from my side