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Food industry unveils DNA tests in bid to restore confidence

THE food retail industry said it was absolutely determined to restore confidence in its products as it laid out plans for DNA testing on processed beef every three months.

Retailers were expected to publish the remainder of test results ordered by the Food Standards Agency on beef products by Friday, according to Environment Secretary Owen Paterson.

His comments followed a meeting he attended with representatives from Tesco, Asda, Sainsbury's and Morrisons at Westminster, along with the Institute of Grocery Distribution and the Food and Drink Federation.

Also present was Scotland's Rural Affairs Secretary Richard Lochhead, who called for shorter supply chains.

Mr Paterson said he hoped consumers took some reassurance that 99% of the products already tested were clear of horse DNA.

He described the meeting as "most constructive", adding there had been a real sense of commitment from everyone to "work together to rebuild the certainty and trust consumers deserve".

He said he would meet industry figures regularly to ensure consumers were getting sound products.

He added: "There was absolute determination in the industry to restore confidence in their products and I am pleased to say we look forward to meeting on a regular basis to absolutely make it clear that when consumers buy a product, they get what they bought."

Mr Lochhead said high quality local produce should be used whenever possible, adding: "We cannot be complacent and a precautionary approach will continue to be taken."

Downing Street stressed it was up to the food industry to rebuild trust among consumers.

British Retail Consortium director Helen Dickinson said retailers were communicating with customers on a day-to-day basis and trying to establish the causes of failures in the supply chain.

She said: "Retailers are doing everything they can to maintain consumer confidence."

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Food and drink

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