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Concerning horsemeat test results to be revealed early

by - Deputy Political Editor
Tests revealing concerns similar to the Findus lasagne case will be quickly published. Credit: Yui Mok/PA Wire

The results of the tests ordered in light of the horsemeat scandal are unlikely to be known until the end of the week.

Those results will come from food processors and supermarkets, many of which met with the Food Standards Agency again today.

The FSA says it will assess the results as they come in and if any are found to be a cause for concern, like the results from the Findus lasagne, they may consider publishing them earlier.

In the meantime, 28 local authorities have been selected to carry out meat tests of their own. They will be used as a sampling exercise in order to shed light on the problem nationwide.

The results of those tests, however, will not be known until April.

Horsemeat tests could reveal any fraud by Friday

The FSA is meeting retailers and suppliers today, David Cameron's spokesman has confirmed, and the first "meaningful" results of a programme of product tests by retailers and suppliers should be available by Friday and will be made public.

Those tests may point to the possibility of fraudulent behaviour, the spokesman said. But he played down the chances of an import ban on meat products given that EU law only permits such a move in the case of a risk to public health. He added:

When it comes to questions of food safety, the right thing to do is to go on the expert advice, and we have had that from the FSA and the Chief Medical Officer.

The spokesman said "the primary responsibility is with the retailers and suppliers" in the horsemeat contamination scandal, plus a "responsibility on those purchasing to check with their retailers and suppliers about the steps they have been taking to ensure the correct labelling".

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PM: Horsemeat crisis of 'significant concern' to public

David Cameron
The PM believes people are right to be concerned over any mislabelling of what they eat. Credit: Ben Birchall/PA Archive

David Cameron's official spokesman has said the horsemeat contamination scandal is "an issue of significant public concern".

He confirmed Environment Secretary Owen Paterson and Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt met with Mr Cameron at Downing Street this morning to discuss the problem.

"The Prime Minister will want to keep very much up to speed with what is going on," he said, adding that Mr Cameron had full confidence in Mr Paterson's response.

"Yes, the Prime Minister's view is that the Secretary of State is doing the right thing," he said.

British butchers enjoy better cut amid horsemeat scare

Rib of English beef
"Whenever there is a scare - be it horse meat or BSE - they always come back." Credit: Barry Batchelor/PA Archive

British butchers have said they are enjoying an upturn in trade "by as much as 20 and 30%" as consumers steer clear of imported and processed products amid the horsemeat scandal.

"There has definitely been a spike in sales for the High Street butcher in recent weeks," said Brindon Addy, chairman of the Q Guild, which represents 130 butchers across England, Scotland and Wales.

He put the boom in home-grown meat sales down to a "trust issue," with confidence in cheaper meats of now-dubious content from Ireland and the continent plummeting.

"Some people are wising up," Mr Addy added. "If they buy a sausage worth tuppence, they've got to wonder what is really going into it. Horsemeat would probably be one of the better things to find in it."

Tesco due to reveal spaghetti bolognese test results

Tesco is expected to reveal the results of tests on its 'Everyday Value Spaghetti Bolognese' early this week. The retailer stripped shelves of the product as fears spread over contaminated meat products. The product is made by French food supplier Comigel.

The Food Standards Agency is discussing the scandal with major supermarkets
The Food Standards Agency is discussing the scandal with major supermarkets Credit: Press Association

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NFU: Regulation on UK farmers leads to foreign imports

Environment Secretary Owen Paterson has said the Government is powerless to impose a ban on meat imports unless beef contaminated with horse meat is found to be a health risk.

The government dismissed calls for a ban on importing meat from the European Union as the horsemeat scandal spread across the continent.

Speaking to ITV Daybreak, President of the NFU Peter Kendall, said that meat is often imported from abroad, as a result of Government 'regulation'.

He added that farmers need better policies that help them invest, to support the produce of British meat, so that we know where the food we eat is coming from.

Watch: Government dismisses calls to ban meat imports

Defra: Meat 'no risk to human health'

The Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) has sought to play down any concerns that the horsemeat scandal could pose a risk to the public today, after tests were ordered on meat products for the veterinary drug phenylbutazone. A Defra spokesman said:

There is currently no evidence of a risk to human health. Owen Paterson was quite clear that while we must be prepared to find more evidence of fraud, there is not a food safety risk at present.

The FSA (Food Standards Agency) has said that unless there is advice to avoid a specific product, there is no reason for people to change their shopping habits.

The Government and the FSA are working with authorities across Europe, including police, to get to the bottom of this unacceptable situation.

Environment Secretary to act with EU over meat scandal

by - Political Correspondent

I think that Owen Paterson's approach up until now of 'blaming' criminal gangs for the contamination has been rather beside the point. I think most consumers want to know is whether this meat is safe to eat and how extensive the contamination really is.

Now Mr Paterson should shed some light on that when he gives a statement to MPs in the House of Commons. He may perhaps clear up the confusion of whether the EU can ban imports of these processed meat products as well.

I understand that he has had several phone calls pencilled in in his diary with his European counterparts for tomorrow and I think that it does indicate that there may be some coordinated action pretty soon.

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