Home World Europe News Horsemeat scandal: EU food safety experts plan response after Brussels meeting

Horsemeat scandal: EU food safety experts plan response after Brussels meeting


EU food safety experts are due to meet in Brussels to address the scandal over mislabelled horsemeat.

The EU Standing Committee on the Food Chain will draw up plans for large-scale testing of beef products to check if they contain horse DNA.

On Thursday the French government suspended the licence of processing firm Spanghero, saying it had “knowingly” sold horsemeat as beef.

In the UK three people were arrested for suspected fraud in meat sales.

The widening scandal has affected at least 12 countries and raised questions about the complexity of the food industry’s supply chains across Europe.

The previously little-known committee is suddenly the focus of attention, and the plans it comes up with could eventually have a huge impact on consumer confidence in the food being eaten in Europe.

The experts from all 27 EU countries will try to devise accurate random tests to determine the scale of the mislabelling of horsemeat.

They will also draw up plans for separate tests to assess the scale of contamination with phenylbutazone or “bute” – a veterinary medicine considered potentially harmful to humans.

Their proposals will still have to be approved by EU ministers.

EU food safety experts are due to meet in Brussels to address the scandal over mislabelled horsemeat

EU food safety experts are due to meet in Brussels to address the scandal over mislabelled horsemeat

The scale of the crisis was underlined on Thursday in France, where ministers said they believed the sale of horsemeat labelled as beef went on for six months and involved about 750 tonnes of meat.

The French government accused meat processing firm Spanghero of knowingly mislabelling horsemeat as beef and suspended its licence pending further investigation.

The company has strongly denied the allegation, saying it only ever dealt in meat it believed to be beef.

Spanghero imported meat from Romania, which was correctly labeled, and sold it on to another company, Comigel, which made frozen ready meals at its factory in Luxembourg for further distribution.

Millions of processed meat products have been withdrawn from supermarket shelves across the EU.

The UK has asked the European investigative agency Europol to co-ordinate a continent-wide investigation into an alleged international conspiracy to pass horsemeat off as beef.

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