Suppliers back quarterly tests for horsemeat

ENVIRONMENT minister Owen Paterson last night said food retailers will conduct tests for horse- meat in processed beef products every three months, in an attempt to restore consumer confidence in the industry.

“There was absolute determination in the industry to restore confidence in their products, and I’m pleased to say we look forward to meeting on a regular basis to make absolutely clear that when consumers buy a product they get what they bought,” Paterson told the BBC, after spending yesterday afternoon with representatives of the food industry.

In a meeting at Westminster during the parliamentary recess yesterday, Paterson met bosses from the big four grocers Tesco, Asda, Morrisons and Sainsbury’s, as well as representatives of the Institute of Grocery Distribution and the Food and Drink Federation.

Meanwhile a survey of 2,200 adults released yesterday by retailer research group Consumer
Intelligence found that a fifth of respondents said they had started buying less meat after traces of horse DNA were found in some products.

The government has repeatedly insisted that retailers must lead the way in convincing consumers to have confidence in food labelling, with no sign that the scandal poses a health risk to consumers.

The Food Standards Agency last week said that an initial check of more than 2,500 processed beef products had found 29 cases of horsemeat contamination, all of which had been previously reported and the products cleared from the shelves.

The organisation is due to release another tranche of results on Friday, with further updates due on 1 March.

French meat processing firm Spanghero, which has been accused of knowingly selling horsemeat as beef, yesterday had its production ban partially lifted.

The French government said that it did not want ordinary workers to lose their jobs due to the crisis.