Ever since the "HorseburgerGate" sage began, there has been an overwhelming desire by the media to find someone to blame. The trouble is, there hasn't been anyone because the actual culprit is not in the UK.
Todays meme has been to vilify the FSA for not picking this up. There have been several reports on how meat in the UK can be tracked from farmer to butcher and its all very interesting, but irrelevant. The Channel 4 news even went as far as to blame cuts in the FSA budget and changes in FSA procedures for the scandal.
Lets be clear in this, even without the changes in the FSA's ability to oversee the slaughter of meat in the UK the scandal would still have happened.
The fact is the meat containing Horse wasn't slaughtered here in the UK and because of that the FSA wouldn't be involved at all in the production of it. It would be the job of the local Polish authorities to ensure the standards regarding the slaughter of animals and the labelling of meat products is to EU standards. Its not for the FSA to tell the Polish authorities how to do their job, its for the Polish authorities to do their job to an agreed standard.
Once that meat has been processed in Poland, and labelled to EU standards, then it is free to cross borders between member states without hindrance.
And this is where EU standards fall down. I've already in my previous blog about the dogmatic attitude of the EU to all things and this is a case in point. EU standards assume that everything will go right and there is very little in the way of standards to cover when things go wrong.
If a problem is found, its up the local authority finding the problem to inform the FSA and if the problem is a national one to inform the industry and to be involved in resolution of the problem.
In this case the FSA have been informed by those finding the horsemeat and have acted quite properly in establishing a regime where meat products are required to be tested within the next 7 days.
Lets be clear: it looks like no UK company has done anything wrong and have been the victims in this. They have purchased products in good faith which have all the correct markings and therefore have the correct provenance. The crime (if there is one) has been committed outside UK boundaries and outside the remit of the UK authorities.
Don't blame the producers, don't blame the FSA, blame the EU for creating a regime where small infringements to standards can net huge gains for criminals due to the huge open market and lack of checks within that market.
If you really want to know how fucked up EU rules and regulations are and how easy it is for criminals to make huge amounts of money, have a look at VAT fraud within the EU.
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