In a bid to allay consumer fears about food safety, Sainsbury’s has become the first UK supermarket chain to test all its beef products for evidence of BSE contamination.

The retailer revealed that the EU validated test analyses samples of recently slaughtered cattle for the presence of the abnormal prion protein that indicates BSE. The test was developed by Swiss scientists and will be introduced in suppliers’ slaughterhouses, with a long term view of testing every piece of beef on Sainsbury’s shelves.

Chief microbiologist at the chain, Alec Kyriakides, commented: “Our research shows that BSE is still one of the highest issues of concern for our customers in terms of health and food safety […] We set ourselves very high food safety standards, so we will always trial the latest techniques. We are also the only UK supermarket to sell beef that is DNA tested so that we can trace back to the animal.

“We hope that the British beef industry will benefit from this move to further increase consumer confidence in British beef which we believe is the safest in the world.”