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Horsemeat and Contaminated Food

Volume 558: debated on Monday 11 February 2013

Investigations are currently going on into a number of incidents of processed beef products containing undeclared horsemeat. These investigations are being led by the independent Food Standards Agency in liaison with authorities in other European countries and the police. The Food Standards Agency has assured me that it currently has no evidence to suggest that the products in question represent a food safety risk.

Food fraud is completely unacceptable. Consumers need to be confident that food is what it says on the label. It is outrageous that consumers have been buying products labelled beef, but which turn out to be horse. I am determined that we get to the bottom of this and that any wrongdoing is prosecuted.

I met major retailers, manufacturers and distributors on 9 February to agree a clear plan of action to deal with this problem. Producers and retailers are testing their processed beef products for the presence of horsemeat and I made it clear I expected to see meaningful results from this testing by the end of this week. We also agreed that more testing of products for horse needs to be done along the supply chain.

Consumers can be confident that we will establish how this has happened and will take whatever action is necessary to ensure the integrity of the food chain in this country.

I will be making an oral statement to the House on these issues later today.