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Meat Scandal: Call For EU Tests On Beef

(c) Sky News 2013

One in five people have changed the way they shop as a result of the widening meat scandal, according to a poll carried out by YouGov for Sky News.

Of those who are buying differently, 58% said they had completely abandoned processed meats.

A third of the nearly 2,000 people surveyed said they had stopped buying cheap ranges and now favour more expensive processed meat.

As for who they blamed most, nearly half - 49% - said meat processors were most at fault, while one in five said food manufacturers carried responsibility.

But supermarkets seem to be largely off the hook, with only 10% of people saying they are to blame and even fewer pointing the finger at the Food Standards Agency (FSA) or the Government.

One shopper told Sky's Tom Parmenter she now refuses to buy processed ready meals for her two children.

Sharon Cummins, from Slough, said: "It is affecting everybody because it is all just lies.

"The thought of eating something like a horse - it is there, that picture is in your head: What am I eating?

"You just don't know, it could be school dinners next."

EU nations have now been urged to begin widespread DNA testing to check processed beef products for contamination with horsemeat.

There should also be tests for the presence of the veterinary painkiller known as "bute", which causes cancer in humans and is banned from the food chain, European health commissioner Tonio Borg said.

The problem was being treated as a fraud issue rather than one of food safety, he said.

Earlier British Environment Secretary Owen Paterson, who attended a summit in Brussels on the scandal, warned those guilty of passing off horsemeat as more expensive beef would face the "full force of the law".

Two British firms have been shut down following raids by the FSA and police. They swooped on Peter Boddy slaughterhouse in Todmorden, West Yorkshire, and meat processing plant Farmbox Meats in Llandre near Aberystwyth, west Wales as part of an audit.

The companies had records seized and have been temporarily closed. The firms' owners deny any wrongdoing.

At Farmbox, Sky News saw large crates of meat - some covered by tarpaulin and others open - left in outdoor areas during Tuesday night, before they were removed.

Until now, meat linked to the scandal had been thought to have come from suppliers in continental Europe, but for the first time it appears the contamination may also come from British premises.

David Cameron described the situation as "appalling" and "completely unacceptable".

Meanwhile, Waitrose announced it has withdrawn its beef Essential British Frozen Meatballs after pork was found in two batches. The supermarket said they were made at the ABP Foods-owned Freshlink factory in Glasgow last summer.

Tesco (Other OTC: TSCDY - news) has become the latest retailer to drop a major supplier after discovering a range of spaghetti bolognese ready meals contained more than 60% horsemeat.

Morrisons chief executive Dalton Philips has told Sky's Jeff Randall the chain could not be 100% sure about the content of all of its beef products, but he said its checks are rigorous and it has "extremely high" confidence.

While supermarkets rush to reassure shoppers, independent butchers have been reporting a significant surge in business.

The Butchers Q Guild has reported a 30% spike in sales of products such as burgers and sausages.

The meat scandal erupted last month after tests in Ireland (OTC BB: IRLD - news) showed products labelled as beef contained up to 100% horsemeat.

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