Traces of horse meat found in beefburgers


17 January 2013        

Jill Evans (Verts/ALE)



The Commission will be aware that scientific tests by the Food Safety Authority of Ireland (FSAI) this week found traces of horse DNA in beefburgers sold in various supermarkets, including in my constituency of Wales. The source of the meat was found to be Liffey Meats and Silvercrest Foods in Ireland and Dalepak Hambleton in the United Kingdom.

What steps is the Commission taking to find out how this situation occurred, whether it is a matter of widespread practice and whether EU rules on traceability are being implemented properly across the Union?

Answer given by Mr Borg on behalf of the Commission

13 February 2013    

The Commission is aware of the case referred to.

The Commission shares the views of the Irish Food Safety Authority that, in principle, the food in question poses no risk to public health. However, such food is undoubtedly considered as not complying with the EU labelling rules.

The enforcement of the EU food requirements and the evaluation of the misleading character of the food information are to be carried out by the competent authorities of the Member States. They shall verify, through the organisation of official controls that the EU rules are fulfilled by food business operators at all stages of production, processing and distribution. Official controls must be carried out regularly, on a risk basis, with appropriate frequency, and appropriate measures must be taken to eliminate risk and ensure enforcement of EU food law. The Commission has been informed that the Irish authorities launched an in-depth investigation and a comprehensive sampling programme in all meat establishments.

The Commission is in contact with the Irish authorities and is kept informed about the investigations. Member States' enforcers have all the elements necessary to decide whether the information they collect during their official activities justifies an increased level of checks or the performance of controls specifically targeted at the issue you refer to.

The Commission is responsible for ensuring that Community legislation on food safety is properly implemented and enforced. The Food and Veterinary Office of the Commission's Health and Consumers Directorate General (FVO) through regular audits in the Member States contributes to this task. The Commission will monitor all enforcement measures put in place to enforce compliance with the legislation.