The scandal over beef sold in the UK which contains horse meat has spread to a European level after the meat in question was found to have travelled throughout the EU.
Supermarket chains in France removed processed meat dishes from their shelves over the weekend after the meat was found to have been sold to the British retailers from France.
Findus lasagne products in the UK were found to contain more than 60% horse meat, without being labelled as such. The meat was found to be from Romania but sold in France. French ministers and food companies are holding an emergency meeting today (11 February), and the country's anti-fraud agency is investigating the origins of the meat. The results of this investigation will be released on Wednesday.
A spokesperson for the European Commission said for the moment this remains a member state issue because it appears to be a case of fraud, not a health risk. “We are in a fact-finding situation, the member states are checking,” he said. “We're not talking about a food safety issue...it's just a labelling issue.”
The spokesperson said that any ban of beef imports by the UK would be illegal under EU law, and would be inappropriate in any case because no health risk has yet been identified.
The European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) said in a statement: "There is no evidence to date of a food safety concern."
"The contamination of beef products with horsemeat raises issues of false labelling, food quality and traceability in the EU food chain."