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A claims firm to make horsemeat scandal an issue for consumers to claim payouts (2 April 2013)

Date: 02/04/2013
Duncan Lewis, Legal News Solicitors, A claims firm to make horsemeat scandal an issue for consumers to claim payouts

After whiplash injuries it was payment protection insurance and now a claims management company has turned its attentions to the horsemeat scandal
Midlands-based JIC PPI is now trying to create business from people who feel they have been affected by the horsemeat scandal, promising they may be in line for compensation from supermarkets and fast-food chains.
The company is acting on behalf of an organisation called Horsemeat Action Group (HAG), which aims to put pressure on grocery firms to refund money spent on mis-labelled products.
HAG claims that a family buying processed beef but actually getting horsemeat over a six-year period might hope to recover £600 in compensation plus interest and possible penalty damages.
However, supermarket sources said there was no evidence that the horsemeat problem had its origin beyond recent months.
The 2013 meat adulteration scam was ongoing in Europe with foods advertised as containing beef were found to contain undeclared horse meat, as much as 100% of the meat content in some cases, and other undeclared meats, such as pork.
The issue came to light on 15 January 2013, when it was reported that horse DNA had been discovered in frozen beef burgers sold in several Irish and British supermarkets. Though not considered harmful to health and eaten in many countries, it is considered a taboo food in many countries including the UK and Ireland.
JIC does not plan to take on the legal action itself. It says 'If a settlement was not forthcoming without the involvement of solicitors, then JIC could be given instructions and a number of test cases would be chosen and referred to expert litigation solicitors who may agree to bring group litigation against the supermarkets effectively on all JIC's clients' behalf who have registered with JIC.'
The Ministry of Justice, which regulates the claims management industry, said JIC was outside its reach because it was not itself proposing to bring legal claims, but it said it was watching with interest.
The horsemeat scandal has hit Tesco, Asda, and fast-food chain Burger King.
JIC has pointed out that retailers with loyalty cards, such as Tesco, will hold information on what products were sold and when. Supermarket sources suggested JIC was staging a stunt to promote its other services.
The horsemeat scandal according to a consumer group survey has changed the shopping habits of the UK consumers. The survey by Which? found that 60% of 2,000 adults questioned online had changed how they shop, with many now buying less processed meat.
It also suggested that public trust in the food industry had declined.

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