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Food Safety

Horse meat (2013-14)

In 2013 official controls carried out in a number of the EU countries showed that certain pre-packaged products contained horse meat which was not declared in the list of ingredients. The European Commission together with the EU countries competent authorities worked closely to identify the origin and the extent of the problem.

In February 2013, the Commission adopted a Recommendation on a coordinated control plan with a view to establish the prevalence of fraudulent practices.

The coordinated control plan included two actions:

  • Establishment of the presence of unlabelled horse meat in foods: controls of foods destined for the final consumer and marketed as containing beef (e.g. minced meat, meat products and meat preparations) in order to detect the presence of unlabelled horse meat.
  • Detection of possible presence of phenylbutazone residues in horsemeat: phenylbutazone is a veterinary medicinal product whose use in food producing animals (including horses) is illegal.

A second round of coordinated pan-European testing for horse meat DNA in beef products was launched in April 2014 and finalised in July following a positive endorsement by the EU countries of a new Commission Recommendation.

Further information