The extent of the escalating horse-meat contamination scandal in Britain should be known by February 15, when wide-ranging test results from the meat industry are to be provided.
Britain’s Food Standards Agency (FSA) said the industry had agreed to deliver meaningful results from its testing programme by that date.
That agreement followed a meeting on Saturday between industry representatives, the FSA, and the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra).
It had also been agreed that initial tests would focus on the areas of most concern, but that all products would be tested as part of the programme and all results reported.
Defra and the FSA have demanded more authenticity tests on all beef products, such as beef burgers, meatballs and lasagne, and for the industry to provide the results to the agency.
The tests will be for the presence of significant levels of horse meat.
The meeting also produced a commitment for the FSA and the food industry to work together to identify the best points in the supply chain to test as part of the ongoing programme and to publish regular reports of test results.
The FSA will meet again with industry representatives on Monday to agree this and other technical points.
The FSA will remain the lead investigating authority and there is currently no police investigation.
However, the FSA and police are working closely and the police will be involved if the evidence suggests a level of criminality within Britain.
The FSA said the most recent information regarding Aldi and Findus suggested gross negligence or possibly criminality.
“We are working closely with the French authorities as part of the investigation. Europol are also aware of our investigations.”