Horsemeat: European Commission publishes horsemeat test results

The European Commission has published data that indicates around 5% of the tested products across 27 EU member states returned positive results for equine DNA.

The findings were published after a three-month testing programme, checking for both horse DNA and anti-inflammatory veterinary drug phenylbutazone (bute), in the wake of the horsemeat scandal.

The UK had 150 samples tested, of which none were shown to contain horse DNA at 1% or above.

Europe-wide, 0.5% tested positive for bute, which has been illegal in the food chain due to health risk fears.

Commissioner for health and consumers Tonio Borg said: “Today’s findings have confirmed that this is a matter of food fraud and not of food safety.

“Restoring the trust and confidence of European consumers and trading partners in our food chain following this fraudulent labelling scandal is now of vital importance for the European economy, given that the food sector is the largest single economic sector in the EU,” he added.

The results saw France being responsible for the largest amounts of illegal equine DNA, with 47 out of 353 tests being positive.

However, the European Commission results echoed the statement released by the European Food Safety Authority and the European Medicine Agency earlier this week, which stated there was “low concern for consumers due to the low likelihood of exposure and the overall low likelihood of toxic effects. On a given day, the probability of a consumer being both susceptible to developing aplastic anaemia and being exposed to phenylbutazone was estimated to range approximately from two in a trillion to one in 100 million.”

Furthermore, the European Commission will meet with member states experts on 19 April to discuss the situation and see if further investigations should take place.

Borg said: “In the coming months, the Commission will propose to strengthen the controls along the food chain in line with the lessons learned.”

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