Andrew Gwynne MP has demanded action from ministers, following concerns raised during a debate on the horse meat scandal in the House of Commons. Of particular concern is whether testing has been extended to gelatine and gelatine-based food products.
So far the Denton and Reddish MP, and Shadow Health Minister, has not been given a satisfactory answer by the Secretary of State for the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, who has claimed that these matters are entirely for the Food Standards Agency to determine.
Andrew has now written to the Food Standards Agency to find out whether testing for horse DNA traces in any gelatine or gelatine-based food products has been commissioned, and, if it has been, to let Parliament and the public know the test results as soon as possible.
Andrew Gwynne MP said:
“I am very concerned that the Secretary of State has been unable to answer my questions on whether there will be tests for horse DNA traces in gelatine or gelatine-based food products.”
“That is why I have written to the Food Standards Agency for a clear answer. It is really of concern because gelatine is used in a number of food products, including many popular children’s food products including jellies, confectionery and sweets.”
“Many parents will expect – and demand – to have full certainty that horse DNA has not been found in foods that don’t obviously contain meat ingredients, but which do use meat-based by-products such as gelatine.”
The Parliamentary Question.
Andrew Gwynne (Denton and Reddish) (Lab):
May I push the Secretary of State further on testing? Has he ordered the testing of gelatine and gelatine-based products for horse DNA? If horse DNA is found in gelatine, it would be a serious contamination of the human food chain, particularly because it would extend to food such as children’s sweets.
The hon. Gentleman asks a good question. However, like many Opposition Members, he is asking me to impinge on the operational independence of the Food Standards Agency, which makes decisions on the details. [Hon. Members: “Is the FSA testing that?”] I have made it clear to the food industry and the FSA that I expect to see meaningful results from the tests by Friday.
Copy of the letter Andrew Gwynne MP has sent to Lord Rooker
Food Standards Agency
12th February 2013
Dear Lord Rooker
I am writing to you because of serious concerns I have over the issue of horse meat being found in food labelled as a different meat. I voiced my concerns in both the Government Statement yesterday and again today in the Opposition Day debate, where the Secretary of State stated these were entirely matters for the Food Standards Agency.
I would therefore appreciate a detailed answer to the matter that I raised on the floor of the House today, to see whether the tests being conducted will include gelatine and gelatine based products. If this is the case, I would ask whether it is possible for you to share with Parliament, and the public, whether horse DNA traces have been found in any gelatine or gelatine based food products? Or if testing has yet to be conducted, if you can tell me when you would expect to have the results back for this, and whether the results can be shared with Parliament and the public.
Clearly there is an issue here because gelatine is used in a number of food products, including popular children’s foods and confectionery. As such, many parents will expect – and demand – to have full certainty that horse DNA has not been found in foods that don’t obviously contain meat ingredients, but which do use meat-based by-products such as gelatine.
I hope you will be able to look into this issue urgently and I look forward to your speedy reply.
ANDREW GWYNNE MP
Labour – Denton and Reddish
Shadow Health Minister