Shadow secretary for environment, food and rural affairs Mary Creagh has said that low wages and welfare cuts were forcing people to choose between “keeping a roof over their heads or putting a loaf on the table”.
Speaking at the Labour party annual conference in Brighton, Creagh said that the horsemeat scandal was a consequence of the way people had changed their habits, by eating worse and spending more money on food.
“We know that people today are eating a worse diet than five years ago”, she told the conference.
“People are trading down, eating more processed meat, and less fruit and veg. Yet they know they are still spending more on their food. And that sometimes there just isn’t enough money at the end of the week.
“Nobody who works full-time in the UK should have to live in poverty and watch their children grow up in poverty.
She added, “I am grateful that foodbanks exist. I want to thank the inspirational people who run them.
But – I am so angry at the injustice which leads them to exist: the inequality and poverty and desperation of the people they help.”
She pointed out that the responsibility of the horsemeat scandal lies in the deregulation policy of the Conservative government.
“David Cameron’s drive to deregulate the food industry, coupled with his cost of living crisis created the perfect conditions for the horsemeat scandal”, Creagh said.
“Deregulation, fewer trading standards officers and the end of food sampling meant it was open season.
“Horsemeat was dripped into our food for two or three years by criminals who knew their chances of
getting caught here were small. Deregulation gave us horsemeat in our burgers.”
Creagh reinforced what Labour leader Ed Miliband said on Saturday about tackling the cost of living crisis, introducing new labelling rules, social tariffs for water bills and assist rural communities.
She concluded, “The UK’s food industry leads the world for quality, animal welfare, and value. But we must do more to help those struggling for a decent diet. A decent diet in a 21st century advanced economy.”