Paterson set for supermarket talks
Downing Street has downplayed reports that ministers failed to act on warnings in 2011 that the horse passport system was inadequate.
Owen Paterson will meet food retailers and trade bodies to discuss how to restore consumer confidence in frozen meat products after the horsemeat scandal.
Downing Street said the Environment Secretary would be seeking reassurances that the contamination could “never happen again”.
The Prime Minister’s spokeswoman also said that Defra had been prevented from tightening the horse passport system by the European Union, after media reports that Sir Jim Paice, former Defra minister, had been warned of flaws in the system.
"In January 2012, Defra and the FSA increased checks in horse passports,” the spokeswoman said. “There was a review in 2010 that Defra carried out of the passport system but because of changes in EU legislation what we proposed could not be implemented."
A new poll from Consumer Intelligence shows almost a quarter of adults say they will eat less processed meat as a result of the scandal.