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Meat products have been falsely labelled-EU health chief

Source: Thomson Reuters Foundation - Wed, 13 Feb 2013 11:34 GMT
Author: Reuters
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* EU ministers to meet later on Wednesday

* "Unfair" at this stage to name possible culprits

BRUSSELS, Feb 13 (Reuters) - All companies that have handled falsely-labelled horsemeat are under suspicion, the European Union's health chief said on Wednesday, adding the Commission was considering strengthening relevant law.

EU ministers are to meet later on Wednesday in Brussels to work out their response to a scandal over the sale of horsemeat in products sold as containing beef.

"It is evident that somewhere down the line, someone ... has fraudulently or perhaps negligently labelled a product in a deceptive way," Borg told reporters.

"All those countries through which this meat product has passed of course are under suspicion. By the countries, I mean the companies in those countries which dealt with this meat product," he said, adding it would be unfair at this stage to point the finger at any organisation in particular.

Wednesday's meeting would focus on strengthening existing EU law, Borg said, adding the Commission was studying the possibility of extending country-of-origin labelling to processed meat products.

The issue, affecting a growing number of European countries and retailers, came to light on Jan. 15, when during routine tests the Food Safety Authority in Ireland discovered horsemeat in frozen beef burgers produced by firms in Ireland and Britain and sold in supermarket chains including Tesco, Britain's biggest retailer.

It has caused particular anguish in Britain, where eating horse flesh is virtually taboo.

Concern grew last week when the British unit of frozen foods group Findus began recalling its beef lasagne on advice from its French supplier, Comigel, after tests showed concentrations of horsemeat ranging from 60 to 100 percent.

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