Britain’s Minister of State says he has been assured by the food industry that it is on track to share test results later this week on processed beef products.
The tests are aimed at identifying potential horse-meat contamination, amid a growing scandal involving the illicit use of horse meat in a growing number of processed beef products across Europe.
Britain’s Food Standards Agency said the worst cases involved either gross negligence or criminal substitution of the product.
State Minister David Heath described his Wednesday meeting with food industry representatives, including major retailers and food distributors, as productive.
“I reiterated that the current situation is totally unacceptable and that retailers, caterers and other food business operators need to be completely open with their customers.
“They assured me that they are on track to share meaningful test results by Friday and we discussed practical, pragmatics steps on how to take this forward.
“The Food Standards Agency will be informed immediately of any tests that show a positive contamination.
“All results will be analysed and, if there is evidence of fraud, then enforcement action will be taken against those responsible.”
Meanwhile, German supermarket chain Tengelmann said it was removing some of its own-brand lasagnes from sale, in what is believed to be the first horsemeat-related product withdrawal in Germany.
The scandal continues to unfold in Britain, with two raids this week on meat premises, one in West Yorkshire and the other in west Wales.
One was identified as Peter Boddy Licensed Slaughterhourse, in Todmorden, West Yorkshire. The Food Standards Agency said it believed it supplied horse carcasses to Farmbox Meats Lrd, in Llandre, Aberystwyth, Wales.
The agency and police were looking into the circumstances in which meat products, purporting to be beef for kebabs and burgers, were sold when they were in fact horse.
Environment Secretary Owen Paterson said in a ministerial statement: “The FSA are in the process of establishing the customers of the Welsh business so that the necessary action can be taken to recall and recover products sold that may be contaminated.
“They will then notify customers. Both the slaughterhouse and the business in Wales have a legitimate trade in horse meat, but investigations so far indicate that horse meat has been used in UK produce as though it is beef.”