The Secretary of State said: “I welcomed the opportunity to discuss latest developments in the horsemeat controversy with Minister O’Neill.
“It is vitally important that consumers are reassured that locally produced beef has a rigorous quality assurance system. The Northern Ireland beef and lamb farm quality assurance scheme means that consumers who purchase meat with the farm quality assured logo on it can be assured that it is wholesome, safe and free from unnatural substances.”
Ms Villiers continued: “I have been in close contact with my colleague the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs and will continue to do so over the coming days.
“The UK government recognises the importance of agri-food sector to NI’s economy and I am fully committed to working together with the Minister and her department on a joint approach on the best way forward.”