Skip to main content

Horsemeat Fraud (EU Meeting)

Volume 558: debated on Thursday 14 February 2013

On 13 February I met Agriculture Ministers from a number of other member states together with the Health and Consumer Policy Commissioner in Brussels. I sought this meeting to get co-ordinated action across Europe for consumers so that they can have confidence in what they are buying. I am pleased to report that we reached agreement on a number of key issues in order to ensure that the current unacceptable situation with horsemeat cannot happen again.

First, there will be a three-month programme of DNA testing of beef products across the EU covering domestic and imported products, with first results by 15 April. Meat products across the EU will be DNA tested for horsemeat. In addition, both domestic and imported horsemeat will be tested for bute. The current system is based on paperwork, this introduces a programme of testing real products.

Secondly, we agreed to a new intelligence system so that information about the current investigations can be shared immediately. This will enable other member states to act straight away if they have any suspicions that food businesses are not playing by the rules. Members states also agreed to use Europol to co-ordinate law enforcement efforts, something I will be discussing further with representatives of Europol and Eurojust in the Hague this morning.

Thirdly, because of the urgency with which we have to deal with what is clearly an international issue, we agreed that the European Commission’s report and recommendations on labelling the origin of all processed meat should be accelerated and published as soon as possible. I expect that this will provide consumers with clearer and more reliable information on where meat products come from.

Fourthly, we agreed that implementation of these actions will be progressed urgently at an emergency meeting of member state food experts in the Standing Committee on the food chain and animal health on 15 February. I also requested that these issues should be put to all EU Agriculture Ministers at the Agriculture Council meeting on 25 and 26 February, which was agreed. This agreement represents a clear and immediate response to the current Europe-wide incidents and demonstrates the strong will across affected member states to ensure that consumers get honest food labelling they can rely on and that firm enforcement action is taken against fraudulent activity.