A second round of testing for horse meat across the European Union is set to be completed by the end of July 2014, following a first round last year that found 4.6% of beef products on sale across the EU contained undeclared horse meat.
The Standing Committee on the Food Chain endorsed a European Commission recommendation to carry out further tests at a meeting on Friday, with each member state to determine its own timetable for testing.
“Although there have not been any public health implications in connection with this food fraud, there has been a very clear reaction from consumers following this scandal that controls need to be stepped up,” the Commission said in a statement.
The Commission also released a memo on the actions taken – and still to be taken – following the discovery of horse meat in products labelled as 100% beef last year. Among lessons learned, it said the crisis confirmed the need for better cross-border controls among national enforcement authorities, in order to tackle food fraud.
“The most important [lesson] is probably that large scale, cross-border fraudulent schemes that take advantage of the weaknesses of an increasingly globalised food supply can impact hugely on consumers and operators, and thus on the economy,” it said.
The memo also suggested that mandatory origin labelling could be extended in line with the Food Information for Consumers (FIC) regulation, set to become law in December. It said a final report is due by the end of the year, looking into whether origin labelling should also apply to meat ingredients, milk, milk as an ingredient, and other unprocessed foods, among others.