Probe into fears over horse meat

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Probe into fears over horse meat

Officials acted after it emerged there were fears countless beef products had been contaminated, raising fears school meals could be affected.

Schools and hospitals are among those being urged to check their food stocks.

“We have already contacted our suppliers to ask them to test their produce,” said a town hall spokeswoman.

“We think it is extremely unlikely that our food supplies have been contaminated but we believe it is prudent to check and take the appropriate action when the results come in.”

It’s believed it could be several weeks before all the council’s tests on are completed.

A spokeswoman for St Helens and Whiston hospital confirmed there were in the process of ordering an review of their suppliers products.

Retailers include Tesco and Aldi have been forced to withdraw several of their beef products after they were found to contain large quantities of horse.

A spokeswoman for St Helens and Whiston hospitals said they had been assured by their suppliers

She added: “The trust’s catering partner Medirest has received confirmation from its nominated meat suppliers that no contaminated products have been supplied to the trust and that they are fully compliant with the required traceability, testing and hygiene processes to ensure the integrity of their products is maintained.”

The Food Standards Agency (FSA) has said there is no evidence to suggest the horse meat detected in beef products poses a danger to humans, but confirmed that tests have been ordered for the veterinary drug phenylbutazone.

as animals treated with “bute” are not allowed to enter the food chain.

Frozen foods firm Findus, which has taken its beef lasagnes made by French food supplier Comigel off shelves after some were found to have up to 100% horse meat in them, said it was considering taking legal action against its suppliers as an internal investigation “strongly suggests” that the contamination “was not accidental”.

The scandal has spread all over the continent as details of the elaborate supply chain in the meat industry emerge.

French consumer safety authorities have said companies from Romania.

, Cyprus and the Netherlands.

as well as its own firms were involved.

Romanian authorities have confirmed they are investigating while their Dutch counterparts said they are ready to do so if necessary.

One theory for the apparent increase in the presence of horse meat in the food chain is new restrictions on using horses on roads in Romania, which have led to a surge in numbers of animals being put down.

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Legal action over the horse meat scandal is to be mounted in Europe, Environment Secretary Owen Paterson has said as he described the contamination of beef products as a case of fraud against the public.

Mr Paterson said the scandal appeared to be “extensive” across Europe but he repeated his rejection of calls for a ban on meat imports, saying that the Food Standards Agency (FSA) advice was that all products on sale are safe for consumption.

“This is a case of fraud and a conspiracy against the public, this is a criminal action, substituting one material for another,” he told BBC Breakfast in answer to questioning about calls for a ban on meat imports.

“If a British consumer goes into a retail store and buys a beef product, they should expect to get beef in that product, not horse.

“So this is a straight case of fraud and I think you will see legal actions beginning in certain continental countries today.

“I will be taking it up with certain ministers and also with the Commission in Europe, because this is overall a European Commission competence.

“It is absolutely unacceptable that consumers are being passed off with one product when they buy another.”

Asked about his prediction that there could be more bad news to come after the next set of test results has been completed, Mr Paterson said: “It looks as if this conspiracy, criminal conspiracy, criminal action, whatever you want to call it, may be extensive.

“I understand the plant in Luxembourg has had to issue warnings to customers in 16 different countries.”

Mr Paterson’s remarks come as he is due to update MPs today on the scandal.