Government warns that the horse meat scandal is not going away any time soon

The government has warned that even though all beef products have no known health risks, consumers must brace themselves for more criticism in the continuing horse meat scandal. Owen Patterson, the Environment Secretary said that that nothing that had been examined so far had presented any health risks and that it seemed like a case of extreme criminal conspiracy.

The Environment Secretary, who is later today expected to give the MPs an update on the matter, added that legal action is under way in Europe and that the EU by temporarily rejecting any meat imports is in violation of EU rules.

The government of France has summoned the representatives of the meat industry for consultations resulting in the withdrawal of a couple of ready meals found to contain horsemeat; these beef labelled meals were being sold in continental Europe. Mr. Patterson revealed that the government of France had suggested that two Romanian abattoirs had been the source of the problem.

The controversy over meat contamination has spread like wildfire affecting countries like Poland, Ireland, and Sweden. Food inspectors from Ireland revealed that last month, they had discovered that a number of supermarket chains in the country were selling burgers made with horsemeat.

Experts say that horse meat is just as safe as beef and that it does not pose any health risks to the consumer. The FSA (Food Standards Agency) has issued as order which requires that food businesses check that their beef products for horse meat.

It is a major concern for consumers to unknowingly consume horse meat since a number of horses are administered with phenylbutazone, a drug which can be harmful to humans and on rare occasions may cause, aplastic anaemia, a blood disorder known to deter the manufacture of blood cells.

Speaking to the BBC at a Luxembourg based factory, Mr. Patterson said that he had issued warnings to more than 15 countries as he was not aware of the magnitude of the problem and that they had to prepare themselves for more bad news in the near future.