Consumers cannot derive too much safety from meat that is offered for sale in the Netherlands. That is the remarkable conclusion of the newest report from the Dutch Research Board for Safety.
"Economy more important than security"
Companies believe economic reasons to weigh out on the safety of a product, that is the damning conclusion of the "Risks in the meat chain" report", published by the Dutch Research Board for Safety. It appears that hygiene rules are often ignored, because of a lack of education or a lack of time.
Meat fraud is ever-present, the Board stated. Meat can suddenly change composition on paper and waste meat can be "turned into" meat for human consumption all of a sudden. The horse meat security has not been guaranteed because of this fraud sensitivity, the Board says clearly.
"Watch dogs under-perform"
The Netherlands do have an official office that has to assure food safety, called the Nederlandse Voedsel- en Warenautoriteit, but it has "under-performed a lot".
The Research Board believes this to be the result of "constant reorganizations and cutbacks", leaving little means to actually have an impact on the meat industry. "This is why the NVWA has lost authority", a claim to which the organization stated that it is working on "structural improvements of its oversight capabilities".
How is Belgium doing?
Earlier meat scandals in the Netherlands (like the manure bacteria in meat) resulted in the FAVV, the Federal Agency for Food Safety in Belgium, and Febev, the federation of slaughterhouses and cutting plants, pointed out the major differences between the Dutch and the Belgian control systems.
"Checks are performed by the slaughterhouses themselves in the Netherlands, while government vets perform that task over here and they are very strict. Meat from Belgian slaughterhouses is totally safe for consumption", it is said. Imported meat is an entirely different matter, as the large horse meat scandal of 2013 has shown...