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EU Executive To Call For DNA Testing Of Meat

EU Commissioner for Health and Consumer Policy Tonio Borg speaks during a press conference on horse meat in Brussels on February 13.
EU Commissioner for Health and Consumer Policy Tonio Borg speaks during a press conference on horse meat in Brussels on February 13.
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By RFE/RL
The European Commission, the European Union's executive, says it will call on all EU states to carry out DNA tests on beef products to check for the presence of horse meat.

The proposal was announced by EU Health Commissioner Tonio Borg after crisis talks in Brussels on February 13 between officials from the EU countries most affected  by the scandal over horse meat sold as beef.

Speaking ahead of the meeting, Borg had stressed  that at present, the ministers were dealing with an issue of deceptive labeling, and not a health scare.

"Until now the indications are that somewhere down the line there has been fraudulent, possibly negligent labeling of meat products," Borg said.

On February 13, Germany became the latest EU country to begin tests for suspected mislabeling.

Johannes Remmel, environment minister for the German state of North Rhine-Westphalia, said authorities were carrying out tests on a suspected meat shipment after a tipoff from other EU countries.

"After analyzing the data we have learned that, through a middleman in Luxembourg, a significant amount of goods has been shipped to Germany and North Rhine-Westphalia and those goods are suspected -- and I repeat, only suspected -- to have not been properly labeled" Remmel said.

"As far as we know, the shipping happened between November 2012 and January 2013."

The scandal broke after Britain last week discovered horse meat in frozen lasagna.

Stores in Britain, France, the Netherlands, Sweden, and Switzerland have pulled products from sale after tests showed the presence of horse meat or other meat in processed products labeled as beef.

Romania has denied allegations that firms in that country were behind the distribution of horsemeat labeled as beef.

Further action will be examined on February 15 at an extraordinary meeting of a special EU "food-chain" committee, and at February 25 talks of the bloc's 27 farm ministers.

With reporting by AFP and dpa

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