Statement from Environment Secretary Owen Paterson following the meeting with food businesses
“I called the major retailers and food distributers in today to agree a clear plan of urgent action to deal with the problem of horsemeat in processed beef products. It’s totally unacceptable that customers have been buying products labelled beef, but which turn out to be horse. I told them I expected to see meaningful results from the testing they’re currently carrying out on their products by the end of the week.
“People should have absolute confidence in what they are buying. The responsibility for that lies with the retailers, who need to be absolutely sure that what they’re selling is what they think it is. We agreed that more and tougher testing will take place. I asked them to agree to publish test results every three months through the Food Standards Agency. I made it very clear that there needs to be openness and transparency in the system for the benefit of consumers.
“The retailers and industry bodies agreed to my proposal that they work with the FSA on making checks further down the food chain. They have also agreed to let the FSA know as soon they become aware of a potential problem in their products.
“I told the meeting that the food industry needed to get out there and talk about what they’re doing, so that people can have confidence in the products they’re selling.
“Investigations into how these products came to be on British shelves are underway. I am determined that we get to the bottom of this and that any wrongdoing discovered is punished.”