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Horsemeat: Downing Street pins blame on retailers

15 February 2013

The Prime Minister has spoken out against senior executives of major UK stores, saying that they should have explained to the media why horsemeat was able to enter the food chain and what checks had been made with suppliers.

A Downing Street source said: “It has not acceptable for retailers to remain silent while their customers have been misled. The supermarkets need to justify their action and reassure the public.”

The comments were made as the food industry awaits the results of 1000 tests carried out on products stocked by 13 retailers. Sources suggest the tests will reveal that horsemeat is more widespread than previously thought.

The Downing Street spokesperson added: “The senior executives really need to explain how this has been allowed to happen. Some of the stores are responsible for a sizeable proportion of money spent on the high street and silence is not acceptable.”

Asda is the latest supermarket to remove beef products from its shelves, following the discovery of horse DNA in 500g packs of fresh beef bolognese sauce. As a precaution, the store removed other products from the same supplier, Greencore in Bristol and said it was working with the company to establish the source of the meat.

Other developments:
· Three men linked to abattoirs in Wales and West Yorkshire have been arrested on suspicion of fraud, relating to horsemeat in burgers and kebabs sold in the UK

· An Irish firm that supplied meat products to Britain withdrew burgers found to contain up to 30% horsemeat

· The Food Standards Agency has announced that hundreds of horse carcasses contaminated with the painkiller bute were likely to have been sold for human consumption by British abattoirs

· A French company that handled horsemeat found in Findus lasagne has been accused of knowingly passing off 750tonnes of horsemeat as beef in a six month period

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