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Not Reassured

The Food Safety Authority of Ireland has analysed selected consumer products sold in Ireland. These products are probably also sold in the UK. By and large they were “manufactured” in Ireland.

The products are, allegedly, burgers made of beef meat. (1)

It is true, they contained some beef meat. However, they also contained some pig and horsemeat. The proportions varied from sample to sample.

There is one conclusion to be drawn from this; it is not wise to trust the meat processing industry. (We have always known this, butchers were traditionally excluded from serving on juries in criminal trials.) (2)

In fact we still do not trust the meat industry. Every meat processing plant has a vet in attendance. The vet is employed by the State and the vet’s job is to ensure that the plant is operated in accordance with law.

What else do we do?

Well, the FSAI survey is in fact a follow-up check of the output of the plant(s) and the State surveillance. Probably, we also assume that grocery multiples will try to ensure that the product they buy from meat processors is what the processors claim it is. (3)

What do we resolutely not do?

We refuse to empower the consumer to take effective action against such consumer abuse. We know that each individual consumer is helpless to take effective direct personal action. We also know that there are tried and tested remedies for consumers, if they act collectively, but in Ireland we will not permit that. No amount of Ministerial hand-wringing will be a substitute for permitting class actions in Ireland.

(1) Here, “allegedly” is appropriate. The wrapping on the burgers made allegations (known to lawyers as “representations”) about the products. Journalists need to be careful, but, when ABP’s Silvercrest Foods claims it is itself investigating the presence of horse meat in a burger it produced, that’s an admission about the horsemeat and the product. There is no need to be pusillanimous by saying the burger was alleged to have horse meat in it.

(2) Probably by lawyers; a man who kills animals is inured to death; he will not readily feel for a fellow human facing a death penalty.

(3) When I say “we” here, I mean the State, not the citizens.

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