Government refuses to name horsemeat firm

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The government has resisted calls from Labour to provide the name of a meat producer that supplied beef containing horsemeat to a catering company serving schools and the armed forces.

Catering company Sodexo withdrew beef from its UK sites last month after a frozen product tested positive for horse DNA.

At environment questions on 7 March 2013, shadow environment secretary Mary Creagh called for the name of Sodexo's supplier to be made public.

She said that Sodexo's decision not to disclose its supplier is "preventing other organisations from knowing whether their supplies are at risk" and that the environment secretary "has a duty to tell the public what he knows".

But the environment secretary, Owen Paterson, told the House: "In the case of an investigation which might grow criminal, it would not be sensible to reveal names of suppliers.

"This is a criminal conspiracy which covers 23 countries and it does not help the police to arrive at prosecutions if information is revealed."

Later, during the business statement, the Environment Committee's Conservative chair Anne McIntosh issued a plea for the time allowed for environment questions to be extended due to high levels of interest from MPs.

The time allotted to environment questions is around 45 minutes, usually followed by 15 minutes on other topics.

Today it was followed by questions to the the Church Commissioners, the Public Accounts Commission and the Speaker's Committee on the Electoral Commission.

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