The UK government has been told that the number of horsemeat seizures in England and Wales is at a record high, with an estimated 1,000 tonnes of the meat seized last year, the Mail on Sunday can reveal.
It has been given access to figures which show the amount of horse meat seized by police has reached record highs in recent months.
“We’re seeing a spike in seizures, and the number is growing,” said a spokesman for the National Crime Agency.
“We’ve seen the numbers go up, so we’re seeing more seizures of horse.
We’re seeing people who are not even eating horses and we’re getting more horses.”
We are now on track to have about 5,000 horse carcasses in storage in England by the end of June.
“The figures are revealed as the government considers whether to introduce a nationwide ban on horsemeat imports from abroad.
The Government says the policy is needed to reduce the number and spread of horseborne disease and is being rolled out across the country.
In the last year alone, the number has been reported in more than 200 different countries.
But experts have warned that the UK has a problem with the purity of horse blood, which is also known as blood, and could be the cause of the spike in horsemeat.
The Government has insisted that the meat, which does not contain any animal by-products such as bone, is safe to eat.
An NCA spokesman said the government was currently considering whether to reintroduce a ban on the import of horse carcass meat.
He said: “We will be reviewing our supply chain strategy, which will include the current import of raw horsemeat from overseas, and will seek advice from the Food Standards Agency, which has also been contacted.”
The current import ban on carcasses from overseas is in place because it is believed that there is no traceability for horsemeat.”
A spokesman for one of the world’s largest horsemeat importers, Sainsbury’s, said the company was “aware of the rise in horse meat seizures in recent weeks”, and would “continue to closely monitor the situation”.
“Sainsbury is committed to ensuring the quality of horse and sheep products in its supply chain is up to the standards set by the FSA, and we continue to work closely with the Government and the industry to ensure that all of our suppliers comply with the highest standards of animal welfare and safety,” the spokesman said.
Earlier this year, it was revealed that the country was in the middle of an outbreak of horse disease, which killed more than 700 people in the UK.
More to come.