IT has emerged that no punishment would be meted out if businesses did not feel like responding to a call from the Food Standards Agency (FSA) to have their products tested.
The FSA had demanded that businesses send samples of processed beef to be tested for presence of horse, and that it wanted the results by last Friday.
The News Letter asked if there were any penalties for not conducting the tests and handing them in on time. The answer from its Northern Irish branch came: “No and no.”
Nevertheless, large numbers of firms did respond, and the results of around 2,500 UK-wide tests were published on Friday, showing about one per cent of products tested positive for horse. The News Letter asked whether the lack of power to punish rendered it a “toothless regulator”.
The agency replied: “The industry tests are one strand in the FSA’s programme of investigation. For certain premises such as abattoirs and cutting plants the FSA is the enforcing authority and can take enforcement action for breaking of food law and the FSA is the UK’s central competent authority for food law.”