The revelation that almost one-third of meat in some burgers contains horse DNA has been met with anger by farmers, with one farming group describing the situation as “disgraceful”.
Many farmers have expressed concern that consumers would not differentiate between the good-quality ingredients produced by farmers and the end product, which may contain imported meat.
“Farmers have worked very hard to convince the general public about the good work we do,” said Tom Jones, whose family has 45 suckler cows and 550 ewes in Welshpool, mid-Wales.
“It’s annoying really, with the paperwork and everything you have to go along with. You get penalised for the smallest thing and yet you don’t really know what’s going on after it leaves the farm.
“The last thing you want is for the public to think it’s British farmers. It doesn’t take a lot to put people off.”
Farmers For Action UK Northern Ireland said farmers “jump through hoops” to supply meat and both farmers and consumers across NI are “furious at the disgraceful actions” of the supermarkets in question.
In a statement FFA goes on to say: “There is no point in taxpayers and levy payers supporting an agency asleep at the wheel. Goodness knows how long this has been going on for, or how widespread the practice is, which is helping to further devastate already disastrous farmgate prices.”
William Taylor, FFA UK NI coordinator, called for unannounced inspections of finished products in both abattoirs and supermarkets.
NFU Scotland also said an immediate investigation into the supply chain was needed, as “the undisclosed inclusion of horsemeat in some value beefburgers damages the reputation of our food industry”.
Communications director Bob Carruth said: “That is a spectacular own goal for parts of our food sector and doesn’t reflect on the fantastic job being done by Scottish beef farmers in providing the market with fresh, tasty, traceable, assured beef.”
When the story broke on Tuesday (15 January) night a number of farmers and consumers took to social media to express their anger.
@OliverDowding: if Tesco did or didn’t know, how does that make farmers feel who bend over backwards to meet their (double) “standards”?
@SDWheatley: Supermarkets and traceability? ‘Don’t do as I do, do as I say’
@GrainPirateDan: Another reason we should have proper food labelling
@cookwithmekids: So sick of conglomerates screwing farmers and importing from low-welfare countries
@milkydashels: When will the consumer realise that traceable, good-quality food costs money, and it’s BRITISH? #buybritish
@No1FarmerJake: Good had been too cheap, for too long, #foodinflation required