Food Law News - EU - 2013

Council Press Release, 15 July 2013

MEAT - Mislabelling of beef products: Council discussions

The following is an extract from the minutes of the Agriculture and Fisheries Council meeting on 15 July 2013

At the request of the Presidency, the Commission gave an updated overview of the current situation regarding food products containing horsemeat mislabelled as beef (12125/13) [See Commission Paper].

Some delegations considered that mandatory labelling of origin of meat used as an ingredient of processed meat products could contribute positively to the re-establishment of consumers' confidence. Proposals could be done on the basis of the Commission report on labelling expected later this year. Others noted that the current cases of fraud would not have been prevented by more legislation.

The Commission confirmed that the results of the extensive EU-wide testing in processed products did uncover widespread deceptive practices – essentially the unlabelled substitution of horsemeat for beef – which has had a significant impact on consumer trust. There are still ongoing criminal investigations in some member states. The Commission highlighted its efforts to fight and stamp out these fraudulent practices. In addition, it announced the publication of the report on labelling of the origin of meat used as an ingredient of processed meat products at the Autumn this year.

Following the discovery in January in Ireland of the presence of horse traces in beef burgers, several other member states subsequently found horse meat in a range of processed beef products. A widespread fraud and mislabelling of certain processed meat products was suspected at this time.

As a follow-up of an informal ministerial meeting in February this year, tests were performed in the member states to assess the extent of the use of horse meat in beef products, on the basis of a Commission recommendation establishing the conditions under which the tests should be performed.

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