As the meat fraud case sends shockwaves through the industry, the first chinks in the armoury of new measures introduced since the Horsegate scandal have been exposed.

Those measures included an overhaul of audit regimes, supported by changes to standards at main certification bodies; shorter supply chains, with no more than two changes of ownership (three for processed meats); information sharing, with the help of the newly formed Food Industry Intelligence Network; new enforcement capability thanks to the National Food Crime Unit; and cultural changes such as ensuring better representation of technical and safety directors at board level.

As well as certification, retailers, wholesalers and suppliers linked to the latest case have also cited as mitigating measures, supplier codes of conduct, the role of technical services and customers complaints teams, and unannounced auditing visits.

And yet, as gross new images emerged of flagrant food safety breaches, it’s clear some horrendous stuff has been going on.

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With the industry desperately hoping it’s a case of one bad apple rather than a systemic failure, the blame game has started, with the Food Standards Agency and its NFCU in the line of fire over their handling of the crisis. Defra is even considering taking the agency under its wing. Terrifying.

Yet, as the sheer scale of the deception emerges (with six million documents now under review) it’s clear people are looking in the wrong places. And the FSA is in an invidious position here, hamstrung by the threat of compromising a national crime investigation and abusing College of Policing guidance. Indeed, as it prepares to convene with industry next week so lessons can be learned, the weakest link in the chain mail is not the FSA but the reduction in Trading Standards officers, which fell from 560 in 2013 (ie post-Horsegate) to just 345 in England, Wales and Northern Ireland at the latest count.

As FSA CEO Emily Miles told us this week, after alerting the relevant local authority to the potential fraud in 2020, and sending a follow-up reminder, it was forced to conduct its own investigation. Who’s to blame for that failure?