Horsemeat scandal: Beef products ‘pose no health risk’
All processed beef products are edible but consumers ought to be prepared for more unwelcome news inside the ongoing horsemeat scandal, the govt. says.
Environment Secretary Owen Paterson said “nothing seen thus far presented a health risk”.
Mr Paterson, who’s to update MPs in a while the newest developments, said it looked as though an “extensive” criminal conspiracy may need taken place.
Legal action is about to start in continental Europe on Monday, he added.
Mr Paterson has already said a moratorium on EU meat imports, which was called for, just isn’t allowed under EU rules.
In France, the govt has summoned meat industry representatives to talks and a few ready meals were withdrawn after horsemeat was present in some beef-labelled foods sold in Europe.
Mr Paterson said reports from France suggested the difficulty have been pinned right down to two abattoirs in Romania.
The controversy surrounding contamination of meat products has spread in all places Europe, affecting countries including Sweden, Poland and the Republic of eire.
Last month, Irish food inspectors announced they’d found horsemeat in some burgers stocked by a variety of UK supermarket chains, including Tesco, Iceland and Lidl.
Mr Paterson told the BBC a factory in Luxembourg, which was associated with the French cases, needed to issue warnings to 16 different countries. He said he failed to know the way widespread the difficulty was but “we need to be prepared for more unwelcome news”.
Tests were continuing and it was the responsibility of the retailers to “convince their consumers of the validity and quality in their products”, he said.
Mr Paterson added that the Food Standards Agency’s (FSA) advice was to continue buying and eating processed beef products, but when any evidence of a major threat to health emerged “we will be able to act very swiftly”.
The FSA has ordered food businesses to conduct authenticity tests on all beef products for significant levels of horsemeat and the deadline for the 1st set of results is Friday 15 February.
Last week Findus UK took its frozen beef lasagne, made by the Comigel food processing company in France, off the shelves after some were found to have as much as 100% horsemeat in them.
Findus UK said the one product on sale inside the UK using ingredients from the French supplier were its beef lasagne and all other beef products on sale within the UK were DNA-tested and cleared.
The FSA has asked Findus to check their contaminated beef lasagne for the veterinary drug phenylbutazone as animals treated with “bute” aren’t allowed to go into the food chain. The consequences are expected within the following couple of days.
The Chief Medical Officer for England, Dame Sally Davies, said: “It’s understandable that individuals may be concerned, but it surely is very important to stress that, even when bute is located to be present at low levels, there’s a very low risk indeed that it will cause any harm to health.”
High Street butchers
Six French supermarket chains – Carrefour, Monoprix, Auchan, Casino, Cora, and Picard – have also withdrawn ready-meals from Findus and Comigel.
Findus France has said it would take action inside the French courts, believing itself to be the victim of fraud.
But the corporate that supplied the beef, Spanghero – based in southern France – has also said it was the victim of fraud and intends to sue its Romanian supplier.
Romania’s president, Traian Basescu, said if false labelling have been performed with the intention of creating money that might discredit the rustic for a very long time and lift the chance of export restrictions.
Constantin Savu, a representative of Romania’s National Food Safety Authority, said greater than 25 abattoirs there have been authorised not just to butcher horsemeat but additionally to export it inside the EU.
Meanwhile, High Street butchers inside the UK say they’re experiencing a spike in trade, some by up to 30%.
Brindon Addy, chairman of the Q Guild representing 130 butchers across England, Scotland and Wales, said: “It’s obviously great news for those butchers who’ve found it difficult to compete with the massive supermarkets during the past .
“People slip into the ease of supermarket shopping, but whenever there’s a scare – be it horse meat or BSE- they always get back.”