Horse meat review - key findings

Last updated:
4 June 2013
meat packaged in shop
At the Food Standards Agency open Board meeting of 4 June, Professor Pat Troop presented the key findings of her review of the Agency’s handling of the adulteration of processed beef products with horse and pig meat and DNA. The final report will be published at the end of this month.

Overall, Professor Troop commended the Agency’s handling and recognised that this incident was very unusual in both its scale and profile.

In carrying out her review, Professor Troop spoke to FSA staff, Government departments and Ministers, members of the food industry (both trade bodies and retailers), local authority bodies, Which? and other interested parties.

Her report highlighted four key points to consider:

  • The need for improved intelligence sharing and analysis across the sector
  • The need for the FSA to strengthen its Major Incident Plan
  • Improved clarity of the role of Government departments in large complex incidents
  • A review of the FSA’s powers and the use of framework agreements and codes of conduct

FSA Chair Jeff Rooker said: 'The FSA welcomes this report and we will review Professor Troop’s findings in detail. This is the biggest food incident ever handled by the Food Standards Agency and it is important that we learn lessons from our handling – both what worked well and areas that need to be improved.'

FSA Chief Executive Catherine Brown said: ‘It is striking that there was a large degree of agreement among other Government departments, and among senior staff here, that the role of the FSA was to lead the investigation of this national food incident, regardless of the extent to which there was any food safety risk. We do need to formalise that understanding, and embed it in both our own organisation and across Government, so that we are all ready to respond should there be a similar incident in the future.

'The points that Professor Troop has identified about powers are similar in some respects to those identified by the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs Select Committee in its first report on the incident. I am particularly struck by Professor Troop’s thoughts on how better collaboration and co-ordination of the response to future major incidents may be achieved through the collaborative approaches of industry codes of conduct and framework agreements with local authorities, in line with our commitment to treat legislation as a last resort.'

During the meeting, Catherine Brown also noted:

  • Since March, the FSA has been working to establish a better joint infrastructure for sharing, using and analysing intelligence
  • The FSA has begun work on an improved and extended Major Incident Plan

Proposals for a comprehensive action plan will be presented to the Board at its next open meeting on 16 July.