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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."


Environment Secretary: Retailers 'responsible for content'

The Environment Secretary has issued a statement after holding an emergency meeting with bosses from leading supermarkets and the Food Standards Agency to discuss the scandal surrounding horsemeat. Owen Paterson said:

It’s totally unacceptable that customers have been buying products labelled beef, but which turn out to be horse.

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.

– Owen Paterson, Environment Secretary

Environment Secretary: Horsemeat 'conspiracy against public'

Horsemeat being sold to the public as beef is "fraud" and a "conspiracy against the public", the Environment Secretary said today.

Secretary of State for Environment, Owen Paterson says other tests may be done. Credit: John Stillwell/PA Wire

Asked if there were any plans to test for traces of other meats, such as dog, Owen Paterson said:

"It may be very isolated, it might be a small number of suppliers involved in the horse trade we don't know, but I think that as we progress and we'll know more over the course of the next few weeks, we can decide what to do next".

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