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Horse Meat in Beef Products Scandal Continues

04 March 2013

EU - The UK's Food Standards Agency third set of test results from the food industry, which has been checking for the presence of horse DNA in products that are labelled as beef has shown that four further products have been confirmed as containing horse DNA, since the previous set of industry results was announced.

These four products are covered by 10 test results that show horse DNA at or above the one per cent threshold. These products have been withdrawn from sale.

There are now 17 products confirmed as containing over one per cent of horse DNA, which have been identified through the industry tests.

A further two products have been identified through separate tests.

To date, no tests of products containing horse DNA have found the veterinary medicine phenylbutazone (bute).

Overall, including the previous weeks’ testing, the Agency has received 5430 test results.

As in previous weeks, the vast majority (over 99 per cent) of tests continue to show no horse DNA at or above the level of one per cent.

The FSA said its focus continues to be on gross contamination of beef products with horse meat, that is, where there is more than one per cent horse DNA detected in a product.

The agency said it believes that such levels of horse DNA indicate either gross negligence or deliberate substitution of one meat for another.

Results have now been received from a range of manufacturers, retailers, caterers, restaurants and wholesalers throughout the UK. The initial phase of testing by industry is almost complete.

There have been, and continue to be, occasions where businesses have withdrawn products due to trace contamination levels, or on a precautionary basis; for example, where they have been produced by manufacturers that have supplied other products found to be contaminated with horse DNA. Where further information relating to these withdrawals has been provided to the FSA, it has been included in the report.

These results show where horse DNA was detected above the one per cent threshold by industry outside of the formal testing programme, or through other testing and investigations by the Agency and by local authorities.

The UK Environment Secretary, Owen Paterson said: “The vast majority of test results from food retailers, wholesalers, and caterers are now in. The results continue to show that over 99 per cent of processed beef products are what they say they are on the label.

“The food industry and Food Standards Agency have moved very quickly to complete over 5000 tests in a very short space of time. Industry testing will continue and results will now be published on a quarterly basis.

“It is important that consumer trust in the food industry is rebuilt and these results show that less than one per cent of products tested have come back as testing positive for horse meat.

“Investigations into cases where horse meat has – unacceptably – been discovered will continue, and anyone found guilty of criminal activity should expect to face the consequences.”

Last week, Polish radio reported that horse meat had been found in Polish-made beef burgers found in the Czech Republic.

Following this discovery, Poland's chief veterinarian announced horse DNA had been detected in three meat processing plants.

Horse DNA was detected in three out of 121 samples of meat in three different plants, in the Mazowia and Lodz provinces in central Poland and in the and Warmia-Mazury province in the north east.

Another 80 samples are currently being analysed, chief veterinarian Janusz Zwiazek told Polish Radio's IAR news agency.

The German Der Spiegel magazine also reported that traces of horse meat was found in a ready-made goulash product at the retailer Aldi supermarket.

The products were produced by German firm Dreistern Konserven, after sourcing its meat from Mipol, a beef producer in southern Poland.

Further Reading

- Go to our previous news item on this story by clicking here.

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