More cases of contaminated meat may be revealed within days, the government has warned as it raised fears that an international criminal conspiracy was behind the horse meat scandal.

The Romanian government is investigating whether the horsemeat came from a slaughterhouse in Romania, reported the BBC.

Frozen foods firm Findus, which has taken its beef lasagnes off shelves said it was looking into legal action as an internal investigation "strongly suggests" that the contamination "was not accidental".

The Trading Standards Institute has said the discovery of such high levels of horse meat suggests "deliberate fraudulent activity".

horse meat

Some Findus lasagnes were revealed to be almost entirely horse meat

Environment Secretary Owen Paterson said the next set of results on all retailers' and manufacturers' processed beef products could reveal further traces of horse meat.

"There may well be more bad results coming through, that's the point of doing this random analysis," Paterson said.

The results, ordered by the Food Standards Agency, are due on Friday,

Paterson said retailers have agreed plans to improved their food testing, adding that they hold the "ultimate responsibility" for making sure their food labelling is correct.

A ban on importing meat would not be allowed within the rules of the EU, but could be brought in if beef contaminated with horse meat is found to be a health risk, Paterson said.

Paterson said that if further tests find it does pose a risk he would "take the necessary action".

The Food Standards Agency (FSA) has said there is no evidence to suggest the horse meat is a health hazard but confirmed that tests have been ordered on products for the veterinary drug phenylbutazone as animals treated with "bute" are not allowed to enter the food chain.

He spoke after attending an emergency meeting with bosses from leading supermarkets, trade bodies and the Food Standards Agency (FSA) to discuss the scandal which has seen chains including Tesco, Lidl, Aldi and Iceland withdraw some products.

He said supermarkets and trade bodies have already begun plans to carry out more testing and report their results on a quarterly basis.

wild mustangs compassion

The Romanian government is investigating the horsemeat scandal

He said it was down to retailers to visit manufacturers and make sure they stick to the proper protocols to be sure themselves that the materials going into their products are what they are meant to be.

They had also agreed that consumers should be compensated if they have bought withdrawn products with no questions asked, he said.

Paterson added: "It's a question of either gross incompetence, but as I've said publicly and I'll repeat again, I'm more concerned there's actually an international criminal conspiracy here, and we've really got to get to the bottom of it.

"If there's a criminal act we will work with the authorities wherever they are to ensure the appropriate measures are taken.

"This is a conspiracy against the public. Selling a product as beef, and including a lot of horse in it is fraud."

horse meat poland

First it was burgers, then it was lasagne

Bosses from supermarkets including Tesco, Sainsbury's, Asda and Morrisons attended the meeting at the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs in London after the issue became a police matter.

Scotland Yard have met representatives from the FSA, although there is currently no official police investigation.

Asked if there were any plans to test for traces of other meats, such as dog, the Environment Secretary said: "It may be very isolated, it might be a small number of suppliers involved in the horse trade we don't know, but I think that as we progress and we'll know more over the course of the next few weeks, we can decide what to do next."

Food safety experts have said there is no risk to public health.

Findus said it carried out a full product recall on Monday, two days before DNA tests found that some of its lasagnes contained up to 100% horse meat.

The firm, which has its headquarters in London, tested 18 of its beef lasagne products, made by French food supplier Comigel, and found that 11 contained in the range of 60% to 100% horse meat.

Tesco and Aldi have also withdrawn a range of ready meals produced by Comigel over fears that they contained contaminated meat.

Conservative MP Anne McIntosh told BBC Breakfast: "I think the clear message is none of our meat, none of our slaughter houses, are implicated and we should be buying as local as possible and we should be buying fresh meat from the butcher, farm shop and supermarket" she said.

"We need to restore consumer confidence very quickly, and I say again that there is absolutely no problem with British beef, it's traceable, it's farm assured, buy it from the supermarket or from the local butcher."

She also reaffirmed her support for a ban on meat from the EU while the horse meat scandal is investigated.

She said: "I called for a ban on meat (from the EU) last week.

"I believe there should be a moratorium on the movement of all meat until such time as we can trace the source of contamination."

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  • Horse meat found in beef products

    Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) Owen Paterson, left, speaks to the media outside Defra Headquarters in London, Saturday Feb. 9, 2013, after an emergency meeting with the Food Standards Agency (FSA) and representatives of various leading retailers, as revelations about the widespread use of horseheat in supermarket beef products continues to hit consumer confidence. Concerns about the use of horsemeat burst into the spotlight earlier this year, after it emerged that some beef products contained horse DNA, and now the whole industry faces pressure to test their products and reveal the findings. (AP Photo / John Stillwell, PA) UNITED KINGDOM OUT - NO SALES - NO ARCHIVES

  • Horse meat found in beef products

    Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs Owen Paterson speaks to the media outside Defra Headquarters, London, after after meeting with representatives of the food industry.

  • Horse meat found in beef products

    Federation of Wholesale Distributors Chief Executive James Bielby arriving at an emergency meeting with the Food Standards Agency (FSA) and retailers, at Defra headquarters in London, as ministers warn of a "criminal conspiracy" at the heart of the horse meat scandal.

  • Horse meat found in beef products

    Institute of Grocery Distributors Chief Executive Joanne Denney-Finch arriving at an emergency meeting with the Food Standards Agency (FSA) and retailers, at Defra headquarters in London, as ministers warn of a "criminal conspiracy" at the heart of the horse meat scandal.

  • Horse meat found in beef products

    Sainsbury's Director of Brand Judith Batchelar arriving at an emergency meeting with the Food Standards Agency (FSA) and retailers, at Defra headquarters in London, as ministers warn of a "criminal conspiracy" at the heart of the horse meat scandal.

  • Horse meat found in beef products

    Institute of Grocery Distributors President Fiona Dawson arriving at an emergency meeting with the Food Standards Agency (FSA) and retailers, at Defra headquarters in London, as ministers warn of a "criminal conspiracy" at the heart of the horse meat scandal.

  • Horse meat found in beef products

    Food and Drink Federation Director General Melanie Leech arriving at an emergency meeting with the Food Standards Agency (FSA) and retailers, at Defra headquarters in London, as ministers warn of a "criminal conspiracy" at the heart of the horse meat scandal.

  • Horse meat found in beef products

    ASDA Corporate Affairs Director Paul Kelly arriving at an emergency meeting with the Food Standards Agency (FSA) and retailers, at Defra headquarters in London, as ministers warn of a "criminal conspiracy" at the heart of the horse meat scandal.

  • Horse meat found in beef products

    Morrisons Chief Executive Dalton Philips arriving at an emergency meeting with the Food Standards Agency (FSA) and retailers, at Defra headquarters in London, as ministers warn of a "criminal conspiracy" at the heart of the horse meat scandal.

  • Horse meat found in beef products

    Tesco Technical Director Tim Smith arriving at an emergency meeting with the Food Standards Agency (FSA) and retailers, at Defra headquarters in London, as ministers warn of a "criminal conspiracy" at the heart of the horse meat scandal.

  • Horse meat found in beef products

    British Meat Processors Association Director Stephen Rossides arrives for an emergency meeting with the Food Standards Agency (FSA) and representatives of various leading retailers, at the government food and farming department, Defra, headquarters in London, as information is released revealing the widespread use of horseheat in supermarket beef products. Concerns about the use of horsemeat burst into the spotlight earlier this year, after it emerged that some beef products contained horse DNA, and now the whole industry faces public pressure to test their products and reveal the findings. (AP Photo / John Stillwell) UNITED KINGDOM OUT - NO SALES - NO ARCHIVES