Legal action over the horse meat scandal is to be mounted in Europe, Environment Secretary Owen Paterson has said as he described the contamination of beef products as a case of fraud against the public.
Mr Paterson said the scandal appeared to be "extensive" across Europe but he repeated his rejection of calls for a ban on meat imports, saying that the Food Standards Agency (FSA) advice was that all products on sale are safe for consumption.
"This is a case of fraud and a conspiracy against the public, this is a criminal action, substituting one material for another," he told BBC Breakfast in answer to questioning about calls for a ban on meat imports.
"If a British consumer goes into a retail store and buys a beef product, they should expect to get beef in that product, not horse.
"So this is a straight case of fraud and I think you will see legal actions beginning in certain continental countries today.
"I will be taking it up with certain ministers and also with the Commission in Europe, because this is overall a European Commission competence. It is absolutely unacceptable that consumers are being passed off with one product when they buy another."
Asked about his prediction that there could be more bad news to come after the next set of test results has been completed, Mr Paterson said: "It looks as if this conspiracy, criminal conspiracy, criminal action, whatever you want to call it, may be extensive.
"I understand the plant in Luxembourg has had to issue warnings to customers in 16 different countries."
Mr Paterson's remarks come as he is due to update MPs later on the scandal.