The collapse of a belief system paralyses and terrifies in equal measure. Certainties are exploded. A reliable compass for action suddenly becomes inoperable. Everything you once thought solid vaporises.
Owen Paterson, secretary of state for the environment, food and rural affairs, is living through such a nightmare and is utterly lost. All his once confident beliefs are being shredded. As the horsemeat saga unfolds, it becomes more obvious by the day that those Thatcherite verities – that the market is unalloyed magic, that business must always be unshackled from “wealth-destroying” regulation, that the state must be shrunk, that the EU is a needless collectivist project from which Britain must urgently declare independence – are wrong.
He’s entirely missed, as is usual with Willy, that the food inspection system is in fact an EU competence:
What Mr Paterson recognised from the start, unlike any other politician in Britain, was that the root of the problem lay in what had followed when, a decade ago, the EU took over all “competence” to make food law from national governments. It promptly introduced a new set of rules across Europe, to replace the old dependence on regular inspection and testing of foodstuffs with a radical new system. The EU’s version of what is known as HACCP (Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Points) is based on a trail of paper, whereby any food product, as it passes along the chain from one firm to another, must be acccompanied by a piece of paper certifying its nature and contents.
This system, set up under EU regulation 178/2002, was to be administered by a new European Food Safety Authority, represented in each country by “independent” national food safety agencies, such as that created in Britain in 2002.
This is a failure of the EU system.
As to this:
Paterson, beneath the ideological bluster, is as innocent about business as Bambi. Even the most callow observer could predict that with the wholesale slaughter of horses across the continent as recession hit the racing industry – horsemeat production jumped by 52% in 2012 – some was bound to enter the pan-European network of abattoirs, just-in-time buying, industrial refrigeration units, food brokers and giant supermarkets that deliver British and European consumers their food.
Err, the number of racehorses in Europe is around and about 170,000. The number of horses in Europe is around and about 5 million.
A rise in the number of racehorses being slaughtered in abattoirs wouldn’t feeds the school burger market. The banning of the pony and trap on Romanian roads might have something to do with it though…..