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EU okays testing plan to halt horsemeat scandal

PTI Brussels | Updated on March 12, 2018

The European Union has agreed for the immediate launch of tests for horse DNA in meat products, trying to reassure nervous consumers that their food is safe and to halt the horsemeat scandal spreading across Europe.

The test programme will also look for the presence of phenylbutazone, an anti-inflammatory treatment for horses, which is harmful to humans and by law supposed to be kept out of the food chain.

The crisis continued meanwhile to build as Austria and Norway confirmed that ready-to-eat “beef” meals containing horsemeat had been found, stoking concerns many more cases in more countries will come to light after falsely-labelled meat was found in Britain, France, Germany and Switzerland.

The scandal has left governments scrambling to figure out how and where the mislabelling happened in the sprawling chain of production spanning a maze of abattoirs and meat suppliers across Europe.

In Britain, the Food Standards Agency said that 29 out of 2,501 beef products it has tested so far have been found to contain more than one per cent horsemeat but stressed that these must be considered exceptions.

“The overwhelming majority of beef products in this country do not contain horse. The examples we have had are totally unacceptable but they are the exceptions,” FSA chief executive Catherine Brown said.

Brown added that the results were “still far from the full picture” and that testing continued.

French meat-processing firm Spanghero, blamed by Paris for the growing scandal, insisted again that it was not responsible. “I don’t know who is behind this but it is not us,” Spanghero boss Barthelemy Aguerre told Europe 1 radio.

The French Government has charged that Spanghero knowingly sold 750 tonnes of horsemeat mislabelled as beef over a period of six months, 500 tonnes of which were sent to French firm Comigel, which makes frozen meals at its Tavola subsidiary in Luxembourg.

Published on February 16, 2013

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