Commission Memo (MEMO/13/109), 15 February 2013
Today, at an extraordinary Standing Committee of the Food Chain and Animal Health (SCoFCAH) organized by the European Commission, the Member States endorsed the coordinated plan announced by Health & Consumer Policy Commissioner Tonio Borg on Wednesday 13th February.
Commissioner Borg said : "I welcome the swift approval by the Member States of the plan I tabled two days ago and I call on them to keep up the pressure in their efforts to identify a clear picture and a sequence of events. Consumers expect the EU, national authorities and all those involved in the food chain to give them all the reinsurance needed as regards what they have in their plates".
This plan, co-financed by the European Commission, is to start immediately for one month (and may be extended for another two months) and includes two actions:
1.Establishment of the presence of unlabelled horse meat in foods: Over the last days, official controls in some Member States revealed fraud in the marketing of foods: certain foods contained horse meat not declared in the list of ingredients and their name referred solely to the presence of beef. The plan, foresees controls, mainly at retail level, of foods destined for the final consumer and marketed as containing beef to detect the presence of unlabelled horse meat (indicative total number of 2250 samples across the Union ranging from 10 to 150 per Member State). Under current EU rules, the name of foods which only suggest the presence of beef meat where, in fact, also other species of meat are present, is misleading and breaching the legislation. In the same way, labelling of foods containing horsemeat is not in line with the Union food labelling legislation, if the presence of horse meat is not mentioned in the list of ingredients.
2.Detection of possible residues of phenylbutazone in horse meat: the plan foresees testing of 1 sample for every 50 tons of horse meat. A Member State will carry out a minimum of 5 tests. Phenylbutazone is a veterinary medicinal product whose use in food producing animals, including horses, is illegal.
The plan provides for regular reporting of the results of the controls to the Commission, such as information on sampling, type of analysis and follow-up controls. For positive findings related to horse meat, the country where the animals concerned were certified for slaughter will also be reported. All these information will be included in the Rapid Alert System for Food and Feed (RASFF) so that they can be immediately used by Member States' authorities.