ICSA dubious about charges following horsemeat scandal

"We'll believe it when we see it" is ICSA beef chairman Edmond Phelan's response to the possibility of prosecutions arising from the horsemeat scandal.

Mr Phelan was speaking in the aftermath of criticism from British MPs last week regarding the lack of prosecutions and the reply by Minister Coveney that it takes time to build a case.

"Farmers are cynical about the different treatment that they get from the authorities compared to the way in which meat companies are being dealt with. If a farmer breaches any minor regulation, even down to small paperwork errors, there are severe financial consequences. Yet when there are serious issues around horsemeat being passed off as beef, there seems to be no urgency about penalties. Farmers think it's one law for the little people and another law for the big boys in the meat industry," he said.

The horsemeat scandal erupted in Ireland in January when horse DNA was found in frozen beefburgers on supermarket shelves. Soon after similar discoveries were made in Britain and subsequently in several other EU states. While it wasn't a food safety issue, the horsemeat scandal was very damaging to the quality image of Irish beef and revealed a serious breakdown in the food traceability system which is, supposedly, strictly enforced in Ireland.