The main problem out of the horsemeat scandal around Europe, according to specialists, (SOURCE) is not the threat to human health but more an issue of business ‘insecurity, as even major brands such as Nestlé, Burger King and Findus fail to meet the high standards their consumers expect by selling different products than those specified in the labels and promotion of their brands (SOURCE). Other problem is the lack of efficient traceability along the complex supply chain for meat, where unscrupulous vendors substitute beef for horsemeat taking advantage of the lowest price and the fact that so many intermediates involved in the process does not make it easy to find a single responsible. The fact of this horsemeat scandal bursting in more than twelve countries in the European Union makes it compulsory to look over more strict global regulations for meat products, regarding production, transit and labeling. The problem is that food-safety regulations do exist but they are established by national governments and easily get lost in the imports/exports activities, as there is still no formal legislation regarding the whole EU (SOURCE). “For processed foods, there is no global overview on where the food comes from,” says Monique Goyens, general director of the European Consumer Organization (Matlack, pg. , 2013).
The Food Standards Agency (FSA), from the UK, is an organism in charge of monitoring food safety and hygiene covering all the food supply chain, from slaughterhouses to final caterers. Their responsibilities cover: animal welfare, food safety and hygiene, labeling, nutrition, and law enforcement across the UK. (SOURCE http://www.food.gov.uk/about-us/about-the-fsa/#.UTT5GaKQU8o). In this way, one of its main objectives is to ensure costumer´s and business´ safety by offering information and guidance upon best practices and legal regulations. Following information retrieved from FSA website, it is found that the European Parliament approved a new Food Information for Consumers Regulation (FIR) in July 2011, which should apply to all member estates within the EU (SOURCE); this information has been published in the Official Journal of the EU although transitional arrangements are being made at the moment, which means that these regulations won´t legally apply until 2014. The objective of the FIR, as Chapter I, Article I from the Official Journal describes, is to establish the requirements governing food information for suppliers, focused on labeling, in all the stages of the food chain to ensure the right of consumers to information and safe food (Official Journal of the EU, 2011, pg.24). In this way, very specific information about labeling legislation can be found in Chapter III, about General Food Information Requirements and Responsibilities of Food Business Operators, as article 7 on Fair Information Practices reads:
“1. Food information shall not be misleading, particularly: (a) as to the characteristics of the food and, in particular, as to its nature, identity, properties, composition, quantity, durability, country of origin or place of provenance, method of manufacture or production;
(b) by attributing to the food effects or properties which it does not possess;
(c) by suggesting that the food possesses special characteristics when in fact all similar foods possess such characteristics, in particular by specifically emphasizing the presence or absence of certain ingredients and/or nutrients;
(d) by suggesting, by means of the appearance, the description or pictorial representations, the presence of a particular food or an ingredient, while in reality a component naturally present or an ingredient normally used in that food has been substituted with a different component or a different ingredient.“ (Official Journal of the EU, 2011, pg.27)
As for the case of prepared meals (including frozen), where meat is just an ingredient among others, article 18 specifies:
“1. The list of...
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