Shock verdict finds those who are really guilty in horsemeat scandal


Friday 19th July 2013 

  • Maybe a big hammer can’t fix everything
  • Here are the reasons why big companies should face the big guns
  • The verdict on the horsemeat scandal is in – surprise findings of the Nags Head jury

Today I want to continue the debate about the horsemeat scandal, and how it iaffecting us in everyday life.

Both barrels for a failing food policy

OK, we would all like an open and shut case.

Even the grittiest of detectives would favour seeing the body on the floor, the killer standing over them with a smoking gun in hand whilst wearing a T-Shirt saying I am going to kill Mr Smith.

This would let them wrap the case up in an instant and return to shooting derogatory asides across the office about their chief.

But life is never that easy for our overworked defenders of the peace, they sometimes have to do a bit of digging, twist a few arms up backs and generally drag unshaven villains from their beds in the early hours.

Maybe I’ve been watching a few too many reruns of The Sweeney on the telly of late, or the delirium of another hot day is affecting my brain – but I’m sure that’s how these things work.

Several months ago a series of heinous crimes were uncovered.
Evidence was spread far and wide, uncovered in every supermarket in the land in fact.

Science was leaping up and down armed with incontrovertible evidence of wrongdoing, and bits of government and EU sanctioned, checked and stamped bits of paper provided a trail that led back to the perpetrators.

The crime? Well clearly it was the use of substandard horsemeat being sold as prime beef.

In fact the crime had nothing to do with the meat, after all it won’t cause any ill effects if we eat Dobbin rather than Ermintrude, even if we Brits don’t like the sound of it our French neighbours think nothing of it.
Food related problems usually generates as much interest from the government agencies as a dropped toffee paper in the park does with a murder squad detective.

But the true crime was much bigger than a few minced nags appearing in a Tesco burger, it was fraud, deception and tax evasion – and that usually galvanises action by the authorities.

But guess what?

To this point they have done and achieved the square root of bugger all in terms of challenging, charging or fining anyone involved in the whole thing.

Not one person has had their selling licenses endorsed or withdrawn.
Nor yet have any meat processing companies, supermarkets or meat importers been put on special measures.

If I were to travel at two miles per hour over a 30mph limit I would be fined, my license endorsed and my name appear in the court lists of the local paper within weeks.

Why then has absolutely nothing been done to bring these folk to book?

The view from the snug

In deference to Mr Cameron’s Big Society idea I cast the conundrum to the snug the other night.

The twelve men and true of the jury that were propping up the bar that night came to a fairly swift decision, on which they were all agreed.

1) On the charge that the meat importers were guilty of filing to ensure the goods were of merchantable quality we found them guilty, and advised a remedy of a short term in a suitable establishment of correction and seizure of assets.

2) On the charge that the supermarkets and meat processing companies care not a jot for the quality of the food they serve up at a price premium, lining their pockets with filthy lucre in the process – we find them guilty. The sentence recommended was a sizeable fine payable immediately, a public statement made as to their future conduct and special measures introduced that means that have to identify the actual nature of the meat they use in their products.

3) On the charge of each and every agency of government in the UK and the EU failing to do their jobs we found them entirely guilty. We expect those with commercial interests to act badly – it’s in their nature. We know supermarkets and their ilk care not a jot for their customers only their shareholders despite what their adverts and PR people say – they have never been any different.

But we do expect regulators, inspectors and officials to do their jobs to protect us.

The book should be absolutely thrown at these people, they should be dragged out of their cosy offices, thrown onto the street and made to properly check what is happening in big business.

At present they would rather hassle herb companies, homeopaths and natural food companies over what they say on a website rather than point out that a big pharmaceutical company or food retailer is doing wrong.

It is about time something was done.

Scary technology

I’m told that the scariest sight in our house happens to be me with a hammer.

In the world of DIY I consider myself to be enthusiastic rather than skilled, however, I do feel that the family are being a bit harsh.

After all, most of the shelves in the book case are level(ish), the soft fruit cage in the garden hasn’t actually decapitated anyone yet and many people have commented on how delightful the breeze is under the toilet door after I adjusted it when it was catching the carpet!
But I do know my limits...

...and that tends to be with anything to do with electronics, computers and modern man magic.

So, imagine my frustration as I sat in the office yesterday, with a print fresh copy of my new book ‘Everyday Superfoods’ clasped in my hand and heard that some technology gremlin meant that we couldn’t launch it for a week.

I offered my skills with a lump hammer as a means of moving the solution along, but the look of horror on the face of the IT man told me that I was better being quiet... or as silent as I could be as I gently wept.

It seems harsh that having spent most of my life poking around in the corporate underbelly of big business surrounded by whirring computers and endless budgets that a simple dodgy bit of software is standing between me and my public.

Of course this isn’t to mention the six months of intensive research, lost nights of sleep and chewed finger nails that have threatened my marriage and estranged my children.

I am really proud of this book, but now I have to wait a week to get it out to you...

...Not happy of Bristol – so someone needs to suffer...

...step forwards the Foods Standards Agency, DEFRA and the whole government.

Yours, as always




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