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Welsh food sector 100% behind Euro police to beat horsemeat fraud

Feb 28 2013

European politicians were told today that the horsemeat scandal is a continent-wide fraud and must be stopped.

Dai Davies, Chairman of Welsh red meat promotion agency Hybu Cig Cymru told an audience of Euro MPs and policy advisers in Brussels that mislabelling horsemeat as beef was now a problem affecting most countries in Europe.

“The horsemeat scandal is hitting consumer confidence in processed foods,” said Mr Davies. “If a shopper wants a beef burger they expect it to contain beef and not as was found in some supermarket burgers, mainly horsemeat.

“This is fraud on an enormous, continent-wide scale and must be stopped.

“I think I speak for the entire Welsh food industry when I say that we are 100 per cent behind Europe’s law enforcement officers to stop this fraud and bring any criminals involved in it to justice.”

He was speaking during the annual Welsh breakfast in the European Parliament building, organised by the Farmers’ Union of Wales on the eve of St David’s Day, to celebrate all that is best about Welsh food.

“At the end of the day there may be a positive outcome to the horsemeat controversy if it means consumers pay more attention to the labels on their food - and for that we must thank the European Union,” said Mr Davies.

“That is because Welsh Lamb and Welsh Beef both benefit from having Protected Geographical Indication, or PGI, status from the EU.

“What this means in practice is that only sheep and cattle born and reared in Wales and slaughtered in HCC-approved abattoirs can be described as Welsh Lamb or Welsh Beef.

“Having PGI designation is a valuable asset for Wales and we must all work together to protect it from imitation.

“So if, for example, a retailer describes their beef or lamb as ‘Welsh’ but fails to source their meat from a PGI-registered abattoir or does not display the PGI logo, they can be prosecuted.”

Overseas sales of Welsh Lamb and Welsh beef topped £200 million in 2011, a record for the industry, with the majority of those exports consumed in mainland Europe.

“That is why we are urging consumers across our growing markets in Europe to look for the Welsh Beef, Welsh Lamb and PGI logos when they visit their local butcher or supermarket,” said Mr Davies. “These logos serve as a guarantee of the authenticity of the provenance of the meat.

“Only yesterday HCC launched a new poster campaign in Wales with our Deputy Minister for Agriculture, Food, Fisheries and European Programmes, Alun Davies, urging consumers to look for the Welsh Lamb, Welsh Beef and PGI logos when they purchase meat.

“HCC is also halfway through an EU-funded project to raise consumer awareness of PGI in the UK, France, Germany and Italy. I’m pleased to say that early indications show that the message is getting through to shoppers, and I am confident that our efforts will raise the profile of PGI and everything it stands for, providing the reassurance that consumers need.”

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