Critics have called for a rapid start to a clean-up plan for the meat-packing industry amid a food scandal that continues to grab headlines -- and turn stomachs.
Germans love their meat -- but they expect it to be fresh
With the ongoing meat-processing scandal in Germany showing little sign of letting up, the country's Agriculture Minister, Horst Seehofer, has published a 10-point plan aimed at improving the situation.
Politicians and pundits, including Bärbel Höhn, head of the German parliamentary committee on consumer protection, welcomed the plan and urged quick implementation. But Höhn said even stronger actions are needed to prevent consumers from buying and eating spoiled meat.
Agriculture Minister Horst Seehofer made up the 10-point plan
Seehofer hammered out his agenda, which he made public Wednesday, together with ministers from the German states. In brief, the planned changes call for improved communication, the extension of a registry for lawbreakers to cover the entire European Union, and more consistent punishments.
Registry system is key
Seehofer also said the justice department should start inquiries into the matter, and demanded more financing for inspections.
The plan will be put into effect immediately, a spokesman for the ministry said. The ministry expects Brussels to approve the creation of an EU-wide system to register firms that have sold spoiled meat as early as this month.
In January, Seehofer will meet with state ministers to discuss increased sanctions for rule breakers.
Bärbel Höhn: She likes the talk, but wants action
In an interview with the Berli n er Zeitu n g daily, Green Party politician Höhn said she welcomed the government's plan, but at the same time stressed the need for action.
More i n spectors n eeded
The agriculture minister's plan is "OK. But words have to be followed by deeds," she said. She noted that such plans often get swept under the table once a scandal is off the headlines, adding, "If we don't put it into effect, then the next scandal is bound to happen."
She told the Rhei n ische Post newspaper that the plan to publicize the names of companies that sell spoiled meat is a "great step forward." Yet she demanded an increase in the number of food inspectors, and warned that a planned law on providing consumer information should apply to industry just as much as the state.