EU launches tests in wake of horsemeat scandal
Berlin: European Union has decided to launch testing for Horse DNA in processed beef foods to establish the dimension of horsemeat scandal that has rocked the region.
The tests will also determine whether the processed meals contain the drug Phenylbutazone, which is used to treat horses and is considered harmful to human health.
The decision was taken at a special meeting of the EU Standing Committee on Food Chain and Animal Health in Brussels yesterday.
Under the agreement reached in Brussels, the national food safety authorities will test around 2,250 beef products until the end of March. This will involve 10 to 150 tests per member state.
The European Commission agreed to support the initiative by sharing a part of the costs involved. The test results will be fed into a EU database for food safety.
The meeting also agreed that separate tests will be conduced to detect possible residues of veterinary drug Phenylebutazone in horsemeat.
Mislabelled food products containing horsemeat have so far been discovered in more than 16 European countries.
Austria and Norway have confirmed that they found ready-to-eat beef meals containing horsemeat after falsely-labelled meat was found in Britain, France, Germany and Switzerland.
Around half-a-dozen German supermarkets have confirmed horsemeat in a range of frozen food labelled as beef and removed them from their shelves.
Johannes Remmel, the minister for consumer protection in the German state of North Rhine Westphalia said in a TV interview that it could be possible that some of them were produced in Germany.
Austrian health ministry in Vienna and Lidl confirmed that the adulterated "Tortelloni beef" was produced by German company Gusto GmbH, according to media reports.
French authorities said that they believe that Spanghero, a wholesaler of meat in southern France, imported horsemeat from Rumania and sold it to food processor Cornigel.
According to French estimates, Spanghero may have marketed 750 tones of horsemeat and Cornigel produced around 4.5 million ready-to-eat meals out of it and sold to at least 28 companies in 13 European countries.
Spanghero, whose licence was suspended by the French government, denied that it deliberately sold horsemeat in Europe.
The horsemeat scandal broke out when Irish authorities in mid-January found horsemeat in beef burgers produced by companies in Britain and Ireland and sold in supermarkets labelled as beef.