Horsemeat test results will dictate public confidence in meat industry

Horsemeat test results will be announced today.

Not since the darkest days of the BSE crisis has there been a day where scientific test results have dictated public confidence in the meat industry as much as today.

Even before the Food Standards Agency starts to announce details of 1000 retail tests this lunchtime, the trade will already have stolen its thunder.

The retailers trade body will announce its own compilation of the same results ahead of the officials. It is a deeply symbolic move - showing who is truly in control.

While politicians suggest that they have "told" retailers to deliver test results by today - the reality is different. Officials have no power to force stores to conduct tests. The whole system is voluntary.

There are growing signs of strained relations between retailers, officials and government - the trinity consumers are relying on to get us out of this mess.

Downing Street has let it be known it is unhappy with retailers response and thinks they should be talking to the media and public more.

Politicians are clearly smarting that it is them that are getting flak - while retail firms are keeping their heads down.

Strained relations are dangerous because the entire current system relies on co-operation and goodwill. Whatever they may say, politicians and officials do not have powers to "order" retailers, only to "request".