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Food Safety

Horse meat - What has the EU done so far to address the horse meat scandal?

Issues identified

Envisaged actions


1. Food fraud

To map existing tools and mechanisms to fight food fraud, with a view of developing synergies and contacts amongst competent authorities.


To ensure a procedure for the rapid exchange of information and alerts in cases of violations which may constitute a fraud (similar to what the RASFF does for serious risks).


2. Testing programme

To assess and present the results of the ongoing DNA monitoring and, if necessary, undertake appropriate follow-up measures.


To assess and present the results of the ongoing monitoring of horse meat for residues of phenylbutazone and, if necessary, undertake appropriate follow-up measures.


Following the delivery by EFSA and EMA by 15 April 2013 of a joint statement on the risks related to the presence of phenylbutazone in meat, to consider appropriate follow-up measures


3. Horse passport

EU countries to report on the measures through which they enforce Union rules on horse passports (Commission Regulation 504/2008) in relation to:

  • the rules on the identification of horses and the measures taken to prevent that meat from unidentified horses enters the food chain, in particular by verifying how the passport of treated horses is completed following administration of phenylbutazone;
  • the obligation to regularly perform official controls and to increase the level of controls where there are indications of possible non-compliances (as in the present case);



To present a draft to the Standing Committee on the Food Chain and Animal Health (SCoFCAH) to amend Commission Regulation 504/2008 in order to make mandatory the recording of horse passports in a central national database, based on Animal health and Zootechnical legislation.


To transfer the issuing of horse passports entirely to the competent authorities and thereby reduce the number of passport issuing bodies in the forthcoming proposal on Zootechnics.


4. Official Controls, implementation and penalties

To propose in the forthcoming review of the Official controls Regulation (Regulation 882/2004) requirements so that:

  • a. where financial penalties are used in relation to intentional violations of food chain law, they are at a level which is sufficiently dissuasive and higher than the economic gain expected from the fraud;
  • b. EU countries include in their control plans and perform regularly mandatory unannounced official controls (including inspections and testing) directed at combating food fraud;
  • c. the Commission can impose (not only recommend) coordinated testing programmes in specific cases, in particular in case of fraud.


To prepare an overview report on horse meat hygiene by the Commission Food and Veterinary Office (FVO).


5. Origin labelling

To adopt a Commission report on the possibility to extend mandatory origin labelling of all types of meat used as ingredient in foods.

To proceed, based on this report, to any necessary follow up action.


To adopt implementing rules on the mandatory origin labelling of unprocessed meat of sheep, goat, pig and poultry, based on the Regulation on food information to consumers.


To adopt implementing rules to prevent misleading use of voluntary origin labelling in foods, based on the Regulation on Food information to consumers.


To adopt Commission reports, based on the Regulation on Food information to consumers, on the possibility to extend mandatory origin labelling to:

  • other unprocessed meats not already covered by mandatory origin labelling rules, such as horse, rabbit, game meat etc.;
  • milk;
  • milk as an ingredient in dairy products;
  • single ingredient foods;
  • unprocessed foods;
  • ingredients that represent more than 50% of a food.


(Final report by December 2014 according to the legislation)

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