Breaking news story – Brussels says nearly 5% of EU beef contaminated with horsemeat

By Keith Nuthall, International News ServicesThe continuing threat posed by the European Union’s (EU) horsemeat labelling scandal has been made clear by a European Commission survey whose results were released yesterday (Tuesday). They show that 4.66% products in a sample of 4,144 beef products tested positive for horse meat.

 The national breakdown of statistics showed that France had the worst problem – with 47 out of 353 beef products including horsemeat. Denmark, with nine out of 99 also had an above average number of beef products containing horsemeat. No horsemeat was detected in any sampled sourced from the UK.

 

The Commission also announced that 0.51% of samples tested contained the banned drug phenylbutazone. The European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) has already declared that this contaminant is not a health risk, so EU health Commissioner Tonio Borg said: “Today’s findings have confirmed that this is a matter of food fraud and not of food safety. Restoring the trust and confidence of European consumers and trading partners in our food chain following this fraudulent labelling scandal is now of vital importance for the European economy given that the food sector is the largest single economic sector in the EU”.

 

EU food safety experts are to meet on April 19 (Friday) to decide if further monitoring should be staged. Meanwhile, Commission officials are reviewing EU food safety laws and are expected to propose reforms that include common minimum penalties punishing food fraud offences. These, said a Commission note, “should take into account the financial gain made out of such fraud.” 

*Picture credit: Nikki (Flickr)