UK & World News
Horsemeat: Shops 'Determined' To Regain Trust
Supermarkets are "absolutely determined" to regain the trust of consumers in the wake of the horsemeat scandal, the Environment Secretary has said.
Speaking in Westminster after a meeting with representatives from major chains, Owen Paterson said the industry would "work together" to ensure shoppers get what they pay for.
"We had a most constructive meeting. We had a whole range of businesses from right throughout the industry all absolutely determined to work together to restore the confidence of the British consumer in the products they buy," Mr Paterson said.
"It is completely wrong that any consumer should buy a product labelled as processed beef and find it contains something else.
"So last Friday the industry, after an ... intense programme of testing announced results on the products which were most likely to cause a problem. And I hope it was reassuring to consumers to find 99% were clear of horse DNA.
"The industry today committed to work absolutely as hard as they can to get out the remainder of the results by this Friday, and they will be announced by the FSA (Food Standards Agency).
"Some may be completed the following week, considering the pressure there is on laboratory capacity."
Representatives from Tesco, Asda, Sainsbury's and Morrisons were among those attending the meeting with Mr Paterson.
They were joined by the Institute of Grocery Distribution and the Food and Drink Federation.
Mr Paterson said several investigations were underway into the horsemeat scandal, adding that "everyone has an intense interest in finding out what has actually happened, as it appears to be criminal activity".
"Looking ahead, there was absolute determination in the industry to restore confidence in their products and I'm pleased to say we look forward to meeting on a regular basis to absolutely make it clear that when consumers buy a product they get what they bought," he said.
The meeting came as a leading charity claimed the Government was made aware that illegal horsemeat was in the food chain more than a year ago.
World Horse Welfare said it had a sit-down meeting with the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs in 2011, to flag up the problem of horse passports being faked to allow the animals to be slaughtered.
Roly Owers, the charity's chief executive, told Sky News that problems had been reported ever since the passport system was set up in 2005.
"We know that in November 2011 we attended a meeting where the issue of the passport system ... was discussed with Defra and local authorities," he said.