A member of the Food Standards Agency (FSA) has said that he helped draft a letter in April 2011 warning authorities about horse meat entering the UK food chain, and of the horse passport system failings.

John Young, a manager of the Meat Hygiene Service at the time, said the letter was sent to the Department for Food, Environment and Rural Affairs (Defra) almost two years ago, but it was ignored.

Both Defra and FSA are now investigating the claim.

The government's horse passport system, which was introduced to prevent certain medicines administered to horses from entering the human hood chain, was described as a "debacle" in the letter.

Mr Young explained: "Defra gave nearly 80 organisations he authority to produce passports and some of them are little better than children could produce... It's a complete mess."

Adding to the claim, World Horse Welfare said that same year it also warned the government of the system's inadequacies.

In February, Defra reported that issues regarding horse passports are unrelated to horse meat being fraudulently passed off as beef.

Meanwhile, both Defra and FSA are reminding veterinary surgeons of their legal responsibilities under the Horse Passport Regulations 2009, in light of a small number of horses that have tested positively for the presence of phenlybutazone.

Advice from the two bodies can be downloaded here.

(Source: mrcvs.co.uk)