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Horsemeat: MEPs call for stricter controls

19 February 2013

MEPs have demanded more tests, stricter controls and better labelling in the wake of the horsemeat scandal.

During a debate in the food safety committee, many voiced concern over member states’ level of commitment to enforcing the EU’s existing rules for labelling and urged the European Commission to step up controls.

A number of members said that the primary issues were labelling and traceability, rather than food safety. Others expressed concern that horses may have been treated with painkiller drugs which have been banned from meat for human consumption.

Paul Nuttall, EFD, UK, called for powers over food safety to be sent back to the member states: "Food safety is a competence of the EU, but the UK had higher standards before. We’re not ensuring that food is safe and we're also labelling it incorrectly. In this case the meat travelled to five different countries. It is almost impossible to police.”

Linda McAvan, S&D, UK, added: “What shocked most people was that after the BSE crisis the system was supposed to have brought in traceability. [Since then], the system has failed. There have been several cases of fraud.”

“For many people, eating horse is unacceptable. Imagine if it were pork!” said Chris Davis, ALDE, UK. “Responsibility must rest with the food manufacturers. Where is the evidence that the checks have been carried out by the national authorities? Ideally, some effort should be made for common penalties at EU level.”

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