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Public service trade union Unison said the presence of horse DNA in beef burgers should have been picked up by British authorities, but Government cuts to food trading and meat hygiene services mean vital safety checks are being limited.
The union said the scandal demonstrated the industry was not fit to self-regulate and criticised the "dramatic falls in levels of activity" across the food safety industry, including:
- 29% drop in new prosecutions
- 265 fall in total number of schedule inspections
- 24% fall in total number of visits for enforcement purposes
Professor Tim Lang from City University London said he would be "pretty surprised" if cost-cutting was not involved in the horsemeat beef burger scandal. He said the contamination was due to standards being cut by food companies, as they "cut corners" on what they deliver to supermarkets.
"Essentially this is a break-down of control. [...]The good news is that there doesn't appear to be a health and safety problem, but when you get standards being cut, costs being cut, corners being cut on what is being delivered, health and safety can easily become part of that. "
David Cameron said the discovery of horsemeat in supermarket beefburgers is "extremely disturbing" and "completely unacceptable", during Prime Minister's Questions.
Tesco's share price has fallen by over 1 per cent after the horsemeat scandal, wiping £300 million off the supermarket's value, according to The Guardian.
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