11 February 2013
Esther de Lange (PPE)
In the past few days it has been revealed that in Britain, France and elsewhere, deep-frozen products have been taken off the shelves because these products had been manufactured from horsemeat instead of beef. These deep-frozen products came from a company which sells its products throughout Europe.
Is the Commission aware of the situation with regard to horsemeat sold as beef?
Does the Commission know in what products this horsemeat was incorporated? In how many countries were these products then marketed? By what route did the horsemeat come to be incorporated in the end-products?
Does the Commission know whether traces of analgesics which are sometimes administered to horses, such as phenylbutazone, have been found in this horsemeat? Have the competent authorities in the Member States concerned ordered analyses to check for them?
Were any reports concerning this situation sent via the Rapid Alert System for Food and Feed (RASFF)? If so, what reports, when, and by whom were they made? What action did the Commission take in response to them? Did the RASFF work as it should do?
Answer given by Mr Borg on behalf of the Commission
16 April 2013
The Commission is closely following the situation with regard to the undeclared presence of horsemeat in beef-based products. According to the Rapid Alert System for Food and Feed (RASFF) notifications, horsemeat has been found in several meat products (lasagne, goulash, tortellini, kebab etc.), in a large number of Member States, without it being declared in the list of ingredients as required by EU food law. The competent authorities in the Member States together with police authorities and Europol are investigating this fraud.
The Member States' residue monitoring plans include checks for Phenylbutazone residues in horsemeat. The results of the national control plans are published every year. Data on 2012 must be submitted to the Commission by 31 March 2013; however preliminary results communicated so far (9 Member States) show no positive results.
In addition to the above residue monitoring plan, Commission Recommendation 2013/99/EU put in place a specific action plan for further checks on phenylbutazone residues in horsemeat. The complete results of the control plan are expected by 15 April. The Commission will publish a full report immediately after the reception of the results by the Member States.
RASFF receives on regular basis information from the national contact points in the Member States on the evolution of the situation, the information can be found at the following web address https://webgate.ec.europa.eu/rasff-window/portal/.
The Commission is in close contact with the enforcement authorities in the Member States and is kept informed about the ongoing investigations.