Socialist Worker

Bosses caused the food crisis, not poor people

Issue No. 2341

More countries have become embroiled in the scandal of adulteration of food. The discovery of horsemeat in products labelled as beef began in Ireland last month and swiftly spread.

Horsemeat in “beef” ready meals has now been confirmed in products found in Britain, France, Austria, Finland, Norway, Denmark, the Netherlands, Germany and Sweden.

Councils in Britain claim they are stepping up testing for horsemeat in beef products served at schools and hospitals.

But councils in Bolton, Solihull, Wigan, Brent, Lambeth and Kensington & Chelsea are among those that took no samples of meat for testing last year.

Some seven million people live in areas where meat is not being tested for anything at all.

That means chicken isn’t being tested for salmonella and lamb that is meant to be halal isn’t being tested for beef.

Some supermarket bosses have moved to reassure us and keep us buying.

Philip Clarke, Tesco’s chief executive, promised to “open up” its supply chain.

Meanwhile, ironically, Malcolm Walker, chief executive of Iceland, moaned about the risks of processed food. More hypocrisy came from the government.

The Tories are set to drop plans to opt out of European Union regulations requiring producers and retailers to state what is in their mincemeat.

They had previously claimed that the regulations inhibited business.

Underlying this is the fact that bosses make far more money from processed food than from non-processed food.

The more things they can add and the more fancy ways they can package it, the higher the prices they can charge.

There is an indigestible snobbery running though the food debate. At every opportunity, the desire is to blame us for what we eat.

The proposal that caught the most headlines is a 20 percent tax on all sugary soft drinks.

The presumption is that, left to their own devices, people will eat and drink the wrong things.

But schools and hospitals have fed people rotten food because of privatisation and profiteering.

And poor people buy cheap food because low wages and benefits don’t give them the choice of buying more expensive food.

None of this is the fault of ordinary people. It’s the fault of the bosses—and governments that back them.

The government is slashing the bodies that could keep food safe and deregulating further to help keep the cut of profits thick.

We need more regulation of food and more inspections—immediately.

But we also need to fight for a food industry run for need not profit to stop the stampede of food scandals.

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What We Think
Tue 19 Feb 2013, 16:26 GMT
Issue No. 2341
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