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.
Horsemeat being sold to the public as beef is "fraud" and a "conspiracy against the public", the Environment Secretary said today.
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".
Findus has said it will be taking legal action against its suppliers, after horsemeat was found in several of its beef products. In a statement, the frozen food company said:
Findus is taking legal advice about the grounds for pursuing a case against its suppliers, regarding what they believe is their suppliers’ failure to meet contractual obligations about product integrity.
The early results from Findus UK’s internal investigation strongly suggests that the horsemeat contamination in Beef Lasagne was not accidental.
Chief executive Joanne Denney-Finch of the IGD, the food industry's research and insight body, has said that they are working "tirelessly" to resolve the issue over the horsemeat scandal.
The government has "been asleep on the job" over the horsemeat scandal, the shadow Environment Secretary has told ITV News.
Mary Creagh said that there "confusion" in government over whether the police have been involved in the incident.
The Environment Secretary Owen Paterson has told ITV News that the horsemeat scandal may be due to "incompetence" or a "criminal conspiracy", after tests were ordered on all processed beef products.
Environment secretary Owen Paterson told the BBC there could be "more bad results" on the horsemeat scandal when further products are tested in the next few days.
Tests have been ordered on all processed beef products with Mr Paterson saying he hoped they would bring "meaningful results." The test results are due on Friday.
Labour leader Ed Miliband called on the government to "get a grip" on the "appalling" horsemeat scandal.
Findus has said that it was not invited to today's meeting with environment secretary Owen Paterson at Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) about the horsemeat crisis.
Defra said that four of the 14 groups and retailers invited to horsemeat summit did not turn up.
They were M&S, Waitrose, Lidl and the Chilled Food Association.
Waitrose said they were not attending today's horsemeat summit but added they were "confident" about their products:
We won't be at today's meeting as Mark Price our MD is out of the country.
In any event we are extremely confident about our meat and our products and are happy to respond to the FSA's testing requests