Belfast Telegraph

Monday 22 September 2014

Germany plans tighter meat controls

Horse meat has turned up across Europe in frozen supermarket meals such as burgers

Tighter controls on meat products and stronger penalties for companies that violate food-labelling rules are planned for Germany.

The new rules are being brought in as more items marketed as "all beef" were pulled from supermarket shelves after testing positive for horse meat.

And the scandal is spreading further, with the BBC reporting that beef pasta meals have been removed from shelves in Italy and Spain after tests revealed traces of horse DNA.

Germany's consumer protection minister Ilse Aigner and her state counterparts announced a 10-point plan seeking to allay Germans' fears after five national supermarkets recalled lasagne, chilli, tortelloni and goulash - all with traces of horse meat.

German discount supermarket Lidl said on Monday it had recalled Combino brand Beef Tortelloni, sold at its stores in Austria, after tests showed it contained horse meat.

Ms Aigner said Germany will step up testing and look for any meat not clearly noted on the label - not just horse. She said: "I can't say this is the end. We have to count on other cases being discovered."

As well as implementing an EU action plan on testing meat products, some of Germany's other plans include making sure consumers are more quickly informed as soon as a company has detected that its product may be mislabelled, and facilitating better information flow between state and federal agencies. Germany also intends to rethink food labelling regulations so that consumers can be sure where products come from. "We want to be as transparent as possible for the consumer," Ms Aigner said.

Horse meat has turned up across Europe in frozen supermarket meals such as burgers and lasagne, as well as in in beef pasta sauce, on restaurant menus, in school lunches and in hospital meals.

Millions of products were pulled from store shelves in Britain, Ireland, France, Spain, Germany, Denmark, Finland, Sweden and Norway after the scandal broke, and supermarkets and food suppliers were told to test processed beef products for horse DNA.

European officials have said the scandal is the result of fraud, and possibly an international criminal conspiracy to pass off cheap horse meat as more expensive beef. And although officials say that eating horse meat is not generally dangerous, the scandal has upset people in places where such meat traditionally is not eaten.

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