EU denies responsibility for horsemeat scandal

13 February 2013

Posted by Satvir Bhullar

A leading EU official has rejected claims its policy is to blame for the ongoing horsemeat scandal.

Tonio Borg, the European Commissioner for Health and Consumer Policy, said the EU has sufficient regulations in place to prevent contamination, but it is up to individual nations to enforce them.

Speaking ahead of talks in Brussels that will involve the UK and six other EU states hit by the scandal, he said there are rules in force on labelling and a rapid alert system in place to identify rogue goods and remove them from shelves throughout Europe if necessary.

Mr Borg revealed the commission had been notified of the scandal by the UK last Friday. It is now working with France, Romania, the Netherlands and Luxembourg to try to resolve the issue.

He said: "The EU food safety system is one of the safest in the world. Thanks to this system and its capacity for full traceability, national authorities are in a position to investigate this matter so as to find the source of the problem."

Mr Borg added there have been no indications the horsemeat in circulation poses a health risk.

He stated: "If there are signs, we will take immediate action, but it would be unfair and inappropriate for all countries involved to turn this immediately into a health issue without having the evidence."

An abattoir and meat manufacturer were raided and closed down by UK police and hygiene officers as part of the investigation into beef products contaminated with horsemeat.

The abattoir in Yorkshire and meat-processing factory in north Wales were forced into immediate closure and had their paperwork, including client lists, seized.

Prime Minister David Cameron described the scandal as appalling and completely unacceptable. He said products that are suspected to contain horsemeat will be subjected to "meaningful tests".

Mr Cameron added: "If there has been criminal activity there should be the full intervention of the law."

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