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Following up the Horsemeat Scandal: DNA tests & labelling

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Belgium

Following the horse meat scandal, the European Commission has adopted recommendations on the 19th of February 2013.

EU Regulatory Bulletin contents

 

Commission Recommendations

Following the horse meat scandal, the European Commission has adopted recommendations on the 19th of February 2013 with a view to launch a coordinated control plan to establish the prevalence of fraudulent practices in the marketing of certain foods.

These recommendations are specially addressed to detect fraud committed by the operators of the food chain under Regulation (EC) n° 882/2004 on officials controls.

The annexes to the recommendations provide for the implementation of controls of food marketed and/or labelled as containing beef (including minced meat, meat products and meat preparations). Member states are therefore bound to carry out controls to establish whether such products contain horsemeat, which is not properly labelled on the packaging or, in the case of non-pre-packaged foodstuffs, whether information relating to its presence is not made available to the consumer or mass caterers. Such controls shall be carried out in compliance with the European and national provisions in force.

Coordinated Control Plan

Controls will involve testing samples, in order to perform DNA tests and will run for a month across the EU territory (France and the UK shall take at least 150 samples, Belgium 100 and Luxembourg 10). Samples will be taken in retail locations such as supermarkets or butchers, and also in cold storage facilities.

Where tests results are positive and the detected presence of horsemeat exceeds 1 %, the Commission recommendations provide for the implementation of follow-up controls, 

First results are due to be reported by 15 April 2013 and will also concern the possible presence of  traces of an anti-inflammatory drug for horses (phenylbutazone) the use of which is allowed only in non-food producing animal.

Country of origin labelling…

In addition to this, some Members States have asked the Commission to bring forward the release of a report initially due for the end of the year regarding the indication of the country of origin on the labelling as imposed by Regulation (EU) No 1169/2011 on the provision of food information to consumers applicable from 13 December 2014.

Article 26 §2 b) of the mentioned regulation establishes the obligation to indicate the country or origin or the place of provenance for meat of swine, sheep or goats and meat of the poultry, fresh, chilled or frozen. Article 26 §6 prescribes the submission of a report by 13 December regarding the mandatory indication of the country of origin or place of provenance for meat used as an ingredient.

… for meat used as an ingredient?

Notwithstanding the above, the regulation does not specify whether the obligation to indicate the country of origin or the place of provenance shall apply also to meat used as an ingredient. This matter appears to be rather complex, as the Members states have not reached an agreement to determine origin with respect to the different point in the life of the animal, namely the place of birth, rearing or slaughter.To be continued…

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