Food Law News - UK - 2013

FSA News Item, 1 March 2013

MEAT - Third FSA update on testing of beef products for horse DNA

 The FSA has received the 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.

Food industry testing

Overall, including the previous weeks’ testing, the Agency has received 5430 test results. This figure includes the 1797 results we are publishing today. The updated information from the food industry's own tests is as follows:

The FSA focus continues to be on gross contamination of beef products with horse meat, that is, where there is more than 1% horse DNA detected in a product. The Agency 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There have been, and continue to be, occasions where businesses have withdrawn products due to trace contamination levels, or on a precautionary basis; for example, where they have been produced by manufacturers that have supplied other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.

Additional test results

These results show where horse DNA was detected above the 1% threshold by industry outside of the formal testing programme, or through other testing and investigations by the Agency and by local authorities. Details of these products are also available in the report attached below (see Table 3).

Future reporting arrangements

Most of the food industry’s initial tests for contamination of beef products with horse DNA are now complete. Industry will continue to test for the presence of horse DNA in its beef products, reporting to the FSA, and these tests will now be published at quarterly intervals.

However, food businesses will continue to report any confirmed cases of gross contamination, that is, above 1% horse DNA, to the FSA immediately. These figures will, in turn, be published on the FSA website as soon as the information is received.

Next week, the FSA will publish the first wave of data from the UK-wide sampling programme being carried out by local authorities on behalf of the Agency. This work is intended to verify information from the food industry and help improve the picture of the scale of beef contamination in the UK.

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