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EU launches horsemeat tests

By Ian Wishart  -  15.02.2013 / 18:40 CET
Month-long programme will check for horse DNA in beef products and illegal horse drug as scandal intensifies.
The European Commission and European Union member states are to start an immediate testing programme to check for horse DNA in beef products and for an illegal horse drug in the food chain.

The decision was taken at an extraordinary meeting of the EU's standing committee on the food chain and animal health today.

Countries backed the plan for EU-wide testing initially put forward by Tonio Borg, the European commissioner for health and consumer policy, at a ministerial meeting on Wednesday.

Horse DNA has been found in processed food labelled as beef, in a scandal that now involves 12 EU member states.

Checks will be carried out on about 2,250 samples of beef products across the EU, ranging from 10-150 in each member state, to detect the presence of horsemeat that is not declared in the list of ingredients.

Under EU rules, it is illegal to label a product as beef if another type of meat is present.

A second set of tests, will aim to detect traces of phenylbutazone, also known as bute, in horsemeat. Its use in animals bred for food is illegal. Each country will carry out a minimum of five tests, with one sample for every 50 tons of horsemeat.

The programme of testing will start immediately and will take place over a period of a month. It may be extended by another two months.

Borg said he was satisfied with the decision of member states to approve the testing process so swiftly.

“I call on them to keep up the pressure in their efforts to identify a clear picture and a sequence of events,” he added.

Earlier today Borg said that he welcomed the announcement by France's food safety authority to suspend the licence of the company Spanghero, which it said had sold horsemeat labelled as beef.

“This is indeed a major step forward,” Borg said.

“The full scope of the investigation remains to be established but these findings illustrate that traceability of food in the EU works.”

He added: “Consumers must be assured that everything will be done at EU level to restore, as soon as possible, their confidence in the products on our markets
© 2014 European Voice. All rights reserved.

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