Move over halal: the horse debate is back

Food Ministry calls for better traceability of food after meat scandal earlier this year

While the frenzy over religiously-slaughtered halal products has made up the meat of media stories this summer, the Food and Agriculture Ministry hasn’t forgotten the other dispute that contaminated the nation’s eateries earlier this year: the horsemeat scandal.

In response to the revelations earlier this year that traces of horsemeat had been found in beef products sold across the country, the Food Ministry has now called for better food control in the EU, saying that the origins of meat products must be easier to trace.

“We need to strengthen traceability in the EU food chain,” the food and agriculture minister, Mette Gjerskov (Socialdemokraterne), said in a press release.

In a meeting with the Landbrug & Fødevarer, the national agricultural council, last month, Gjerskov proposed a set of fixed rules requiring slaughterhouses, producers and vendors to better communicate information about the origins and processing of their products.

“The horsemeat scandal demonstrated a need for tight inspection with the food chain processes,” Gjerskov said. “We cannot and will not accept fraud with regard to our food.”

But Gjerskov also pointed to the rest of Europe, saying that the co-operation of other nations is crucial to ensuring continuity across the continent and restoring consumer confidence.

“It is of great importance that the EU member states agree on what information is needed, so all businesses will be able to provide and receive similar information all over the EU,” Gjerskov explained. “Unfortunately this is not possible in the current system.”

The European Commission outlined a plan for strengthening food controls, including the proposed establishment of mobile inspection teams to ensure uniform quality across borders. The teams would be modelled after a system used by the Danish food authorities, Fødevarestyrelsen.