This was published under the 2010 to 2015 Conservative and Liberal Democrat coalition government
I welcomed the opportunity to discuss a wide range of issues with the T_a_naiste today, including the current situation regarding horsemeat contamination. The UK Government recognises the vital importance of the Agri food industry not only to the economy of Northern Ireland but to the whole island of Ireland.
It is essential that we all work as closely as possible to ensure that everything is done to deal with the problem of horsemeat in processed beef products.
People should be able to have absolute confidence in the food they are buying.
If there are practices that undermine that confidence, or if there is any evidence of criminal conspiracy, then we need to take robust steps to tackle that.
I have stayed in close contact with my colleague the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs over recent days. He is of course working flat out on these issues. On Saturday he brought together the major retailers and food distributers to agree a clear plan for more and tougher testing, with results by the end of this week, so that consumers can have confidence in what they are buying.
I plan to continue to work closely with all involved, including the devolved administration in Northern Ireland, over the coming days.