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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.

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.

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Environment Secretary: Meat ban 'only if health at risk'

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

The Environment Secretary has said he would impose a meat ban 'only if health is at risk'. Credit: David Jones/PA Wire

Appearing on BBC1's Sunday Politics show, Mr Paterson was asked if he would consider a ban if tests proved there was a food safety risk. He said: "If there is a threat to public health that is allowed within the rules of the European market.

He added: "If they find there is a product which could potentially be injurious to public health, emphatically, I will take the necessary action."

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