PM: 'There is nothing unsafe on our shelves'
By Western Morning News | Thursday, February 14, 2013, 08:21
The Prime Minister has been accused of giving "mixed messages" over whether it is safe to eat processed meat.
David Cameron was asked whether he would eat processed meat
As the horsemeat scandal grows, David Cameron was asked by Westcountry MP Ben Bradshaw in the Commons whether he would eat processed meat.
In response, the Prime Minister said: "I follow very carefully what the Food Standards Agency say and what the Food Standards Agency say is that there is nothing unsafe on our shelves."
Afterwards, Mr Bradshaw, Exeter MP and former environment minister, condemned Mr Cameron for "dodging" the question and accused the Government of "more mixed messages".
Meanwhile, Chancellor George Osborne, campaigning in Eastleigh ahead of the by-election, side-stepped questions over whether he would be happy to eat a spaghetti bolognese ready meal.
Ministers have came under fire for being slow to react after Findus last week announced some of its beef lasagnes were found to have up to 100% horsemeat in them. Officials and police have raided two British factories despite suggestions horse entered the food chain via gangs from Eastern Europe.
Yesterday, Farming Minister David Heath met UK food retailers and suppliers and Environment Secretary Owen Paterson flew to Brussels for a horsemeat summit. The pressure on the Government came as Shadow Environment Secretary Mary Creagh said she would not buy mince of any kind at the moment. Asked if she had changed her eating habits, she told BBC 5 live: "Let's just say that I'm not very keen on mince at the moment, I think I know a bit too much now." She said she would not buy mince in a ready meal or in a packet as a "precautionary principle".
Today a cross-party committee of MPs will say British consumers have been "cynically and systematically duped" by sections of the food industry pursuing profits.
The Environment, Food and Rural Affairs select committee says Mr Paterson's department, Defra, has "failed" to "guarantee food safety and correct labelling".
Tiverton and Honiton MP Neil Parish, who sits on the committee, yesterday said the scandal was a "disaster waiting to happen". He has urged consumers to buy Red Tractor-approved meat "which is completely traceable", which would benefit British farmers who tend to abide by higher standards.
Some argue, however, Red Tractor produce is too expensive for families on tight budgets, a point raised in the select committee report: "The consumer cannot be left to face a catch-22 where they can either pay for food that complies with the highest standards of traceability, labelling and testing or accept that they cannot trust the provenance and composition of the foods they eat."