By Daniel Hunter

Retailers have confirmed to the Environment Secretary that they expect the vast majority of tests on processed beef products to be completed by Friday.

Retailers and the British Retail Consortium (BRC) met Owen Paterson yesterday (Monday) for the first time since test results covering 65 per cent of the targeted products were published on Friday. Speaking after the meeting, the BRC also said that retailers are doing all they can to engage with consumers on the issue and establish the extent and causes of failures in the supply chain.

"Test results have continued to come in over the weekend. The labs are working flat out and our members are confident that the vast majority of testing will be completed by Friday," British Retail Consortium Director General Helen Dickinson said.

"We were very pleased that the Secretary of State recognised the hard work of retailers in progressing their testing programmes so quickly.

"Retailers take their responsibilities very seriously and are doing everything they can to maintain consumer confidence and increase surveillance. Members are meeting every day with the Food Standards Agency and working around the clock to understand what has happened and act on lessons learned.

"Our top priority is to continue to engage with our customers and reassure them that we have effective solutions to the issues that have come to light. Retailers are using every available channel for direct dialogue with their customers, from social and traditional media to answering questions in-store.

"It's clear that there will be things that need to change for the future as a result of these incidents. Retailers are scrutinising their systems and processes, alongside intelligence gathering and sharing to identify practical improvements that will turn the lessons learned into action."

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