Latest horsemeat revelations "completely unacceptable" Paterson says

Environment secretary Owen Paterson has branded the latest revelations of horsemeat contamination as “completely unacceptable”.

Speaking last night, Paterson said consumers had the right to know that their food was exactly what it said on the label and that the presence of unauthorised ingredients “cannot be tolerated”.

“This is especially true when those ingredients are likely to be unacceptable to consumers, or where there is any conceivable risk to human health,” he added.

“The responsibility for the safety and authenticity of food lies with those who produce it, and who sell or provide it to the final consumer. I know that food producers, retailers and caterers are as concerned as we are at the course of recent events.”

He confirmed that the Food Standards Agency (FSA) was “urgently investigating” the individual incidents of contamination, and had enlisted the help of authorities and police across Europe.

Commenting on the FSA’s decision yesterday to order all processors and retailers to test processed beef products for the presence of horsemeat by the end of next week. Paterson clarified that food businesses had also been ordered to test for residues of the veterinary medicine ‘bute’.

“The Food Standards Agency, Defra, and the Department of Health are working closely with businesses and trade bodies along the whole food chain to root out any illegal activity and enforce food safety and authenticity regulations. Consumers can be confident that we will take whatever action we consider necessary if we discover evidence of criminality or negligence,” he added.