Feb 12 2013
Environment Secretary Owen Paterson has met representatives of supermarkets and food suppliers to discuss the growing scandal of horse meat in processed products.
Mr Paterson briefed senior colleagues including the Prime Minister at the weekly meeting of Cabinet in 10 Downing Street.
On Wednesday, he will travel to Brussels to speak to counterparts in EU countries amid increasing concern that incorrectly labelled products have entered the human food chain.
Supermarket giant Tesco has become the latest retailer to drop a major supplier after discovering a range of spaghetti bolognese ready meals contained more than 60% horse meat. It followed frozen food firm Findus and Aldi in finding the meat in products made by French firm Comigel and joined them in dropping the company as a supplier.
Mr Paterson spoke by phone to EU consumer policy commissioner Tonio Borg, as well as his counterparts in Ireland, France and Romania. He is due to speak to Polish and Dutch ministers ahead of Wednesday's emergency summit.
He was also joining officials from the Food Standards Agency in meeting the Institute of Grocery Distribution, which represents food retailers and suppliers, to discuss plans for a new regime of quarterly testing of products.
Results of tests into the extent of contamination of beef products are expected on Friday.
Downing Street said schools and hospitals have been instructed to "make contact with suppliers to seek the assurances that they need with regard to the content of beef products" which they might be serving in canteens and dining halls.
David Cameron's official spokesman said there was agreement around the Cabinet table on Tuesday morning that Mr Paterson was "doing absolutely the right thing".
The issue of a possible ban on imports of meat products was not raised at Cabinet, said the spokesman, who added: "The Government believes the FSA has the appropriate resources to undertake its regulatory activities."