Horsemeat scandal: Legal action begins in Europe

By Gerald Heneghan

Court cases related to the ongoing horsemeat contamination scandal are set to begin today (February 11th) in Europe.

Britain is set to hold crisis talks with a number of countries on the continent and Environment secretary Owen Paterson revealed that processors and suppliers embroiled in the situation would be commencing legal action.

He branded the widespread contamination “sickening” and voiced his hope for a swift resolution.

“I will be talking to ministerial counterparts in Europe today because it is absolutely intolerable that a fraud is being carried out on the public,” Mr Paterson told Sky News.

Last week saw food retailer Findus become the latest company to fall foul of tainted beef products, withdrawing its lasagne product after it tested positive for more than 60 per cent horsemeat.

The Food Standards Agency (FSA) yesterday issued interim advice to public institutions, warning that “rigorous” procurement procedures are expected to be put in place.

“The evidence to date does not suggest there is a food safety risk. If further information indicates any health risk then the FSA will provide consumers with advice,” said the body.

Mr Paterson went on to note that the UK government is unable to institute a ban on imported meat unless a risk to human health is discovered.

“Arbitrary measures like that are not actually going to help,” he said. “We are bound by the rules of the European market.”

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