Commission response to horse meat scandal

26 February 2013    
Ian Hudghton (Verts/ALE)



What steps is the Commission considering to step up the testing of food products in response to the recent scandal involving horse meat being falsely sold as beef?

Answer given by Mr Borg on behalf of the Commission

18 April 2013    

Deceptive practices can be eliminated by appropriate enforcement of EU legislation mainly by means of regular official controls by national competent authorities based on appropriate risk analysis and the imposition of effective dissuasive sanctions, in accordance with Regulation (EC) No 882/2004 on official controls(1).

The Commission is actively coordinating the pending investigations in the Member States concerned. On the basis of Regulation (EC) No 882/2004, the Commission recently adopted a recommendation(2) which calls for EU-wide controls at retail level to identify the scale of the fraudulent practices as to the presence of beef as well as to detect possible residues of phenylbutazone, a veterinary drug, whose use is allowed only in non-food producing animals. A summary of all findings will be available by mid-April 2013.

The forthcoming Commission proposal on official controls will also aim at further strengthening the existing system, including the provisions on sanctions.

(1)    Regulation (EC) No 882/2004 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 29 April 2004 on official controls performed to ensure the verification of compliance with feed and food law, animal health and animal welfare rules, OJ L 165, 30.4.2004, p. 1.
(2)    Commission Recommendation of 19 February 2013 on a coordinated control plan with a view to establish the prevalence of fraudulent practices (2013/99/EU), OJ L 48, 21.2.2013, p. 28.