One of the key people embroiled in the horsemeat scandal, who is now under investigation by the Food Standards Agency (FSA), has a long history of wrongdoing which was first exposed by a television “sting” operation nine years ago, it was claimed tonight.
The meat trader – who cannot be identified for legal reasons – sold products to an undercover reporter working for Channel 4’s Dispatches programme on three separate occasions in 2004. They were later deemed unfit for consumption by a meat inspector, the broadcaster said.
The same meat trader also ran a butcher’s shop where conditions were described as shockingly unhygienic – yet he continued to make money out of the meat trade and is now under investigation by the authorities.
Owen Paterson, the Environment Secretary, said tonight that the Government and the food industry are to hold regular high-level meetings in an attempt to prevent a repeat of the horse meat scandal.
Mr Paterson spoke after 90 minutes of detailed talks in Westminster with senior executives from the food business including representatives from the four largest supermarkets – Tesco, Asda, Sainsbury’s and Morrisons – to discuss how consumer confidence could be restored after a week when tests on more than 2,500 alleged beef products from various retailers found horse meat traces in 29 of them.
Saying he hoped consumers took some reassurance that 99 per cent of the products already tested were clear of horse DNA, Mr Paterson said the food industry was “absolutely determined” to restore trust in its products and was expected to publish the remainder of its test results on beef products this week
“The industry today committed to work absolutely as hard as they can to get out the remainder of the results by this Friday and they will be announced by the FSA,” he said. “Some may be completed the following week considering the pressure there is on laboratory capacity.”
He added: “I welcome the food businesses’ commitment to testing…. They all assured me that they will not rest until they have established the full picture. There is still much to be done to find out exactly how this happened and how it can be prevented from happening again….”