Anne McIntosh, chair of the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs Select Committee, has suggested a ban on EU meat imports may be necessary, adding that French authorities would not have hesitated to issue a moratorium on British meat had the UK sent contaminated meat to France.
The Conservative member of Parliament for Thirsk and Malton was speaking after Findus, one of the most popular brands of frozen foods, withdrew 180,000 lasagnes from sale after carrying out tests on meals from a French supplier that had raised concerns.
The frozen food company found that 11 out of 18 ready meals, which were advertised as containing 100 per cent beef, were actually between 60 per cent and 100 per cent horse meat. The lasagne was sold by Tesco, Asda and Morrisons.
Findus said it did not know how long the product had been on the shelves, but admitted that Comigel, based in Metz, north-east France, had been supplying meat for its lasagnes for more than two years.
Tesco also withdrew its Everyday Value spaghetti bolognese, which it said had been supplied by the same plant in France for five months. Aldi has withdrawn some of its frozen ready meal lines.
The scandal first began last month when beefburgers sold in UK supermarkets including Tesco were found to contain traces of horsemeat.
Stating that the “common strand” in these cases was meat imported from “France, Poland or Ireland”, Ms McIntosh said the legal responsibility for testing the exports lay with the EU member states.
She implied that a moratorium on imports would be welcome until standards of testing could be assured across the European Union.
“This meat should have never entered the UK food chain at all,” she said.