Horse meat scandal: Downing Street criticises retailers
The government has criticised retailers affected by the horse meat scandal for what it claims is their reluctance to comment publicly on the issue.
The BBC has reported that sources at Downing Street have told the organisation that "it isn’t acceptable for retailers to remain silent while customers have been misled about the content of the food they have been buying."
However, retailers have said that they will comment once the results of tests to determine the presence of horse meat in processed foods are available.
Food retailers agreed with the Food Standards Agency and Environment Secretary Owen Paterson last weekend that they would provide the results they have available by the end of this week although the testing of all beef product ranges could take several weeks.
The British Retail Consortium said that retailers had taken decisive action after the first incident in mid-January with targeted testing for the presence of horse meat in minced beef products being carried out since then.
The organisation will be collating all the results available to-date and publishing sector-wide figures that show the total number of tests carried out by UK food retailers, the proportion of minced beef products they have tested so far, and the number of products that have tested positive or negative against the FSA's threshold.
In an interview with BBC’s Radio 4 programme, BRC director general Helen Dickinson said that retailers had "absolutely been communicating with their customers" and had been swift to withdraw any affected products.
She added: "The retail industry absolutely appreciates the role that it has, the trust that consumers place in it every day, and we need to ensure that we continue to work hard to restore that."
Dickinson also said that there were lessons to be learnt from the scandal for all parts of the food industry in the UK and Europe.
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