Horsemeat scandal: more food regulation, not less, is the answer | Observer editorial

From Global development | The Guardian Sat Feb 9 2013, 19:06:09

Owen Paterson is leaving ultimate responsibility to retailers. Not a good idea

If ever there was a scandal designed for the self-satisfied chatter of a British dinner party, it is that involving the discovery of horsemeat in cheap, ready-to-eat dishes labelled as beef. The arguments will be familiar: anybody buying cheap food gets what they deserve; too few people now know how to cook; we should all abandon the supermarkets in favour of our local independent shops.

And perhaps, in a perfect world, the middle-class rhetoric would apply. Of course consumers have a responsibility for what they feed themselves.

But this story is about something else. After all, consumers did take responsibility. They purchased products either made or sold by huge brand names such as Findus and Tesco, companies with decades on the high street that they had every right to trust. And in an age of genuine austerity, it ill behoves those who have enough cash to eat as they wish to stand in judgment on those who do not. Nobody shops in the value ranges out of choice.

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