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EU horsemeat control plan approved

Xinhua | Updated: 2013-02-16 03:40

BRUSSELS - Member states of the European Union on Friday agreed on a plan to control fraudulently labeled horsemeat in the food market.

The one-month plan, effective immediately, is to detect the presence of unlabeled horsemeat via testing thousands of samples across the EU, as well as possible residues of a veterinary medicinal product in horsemeat known as phenylbutazone or bute.

The plan, tabled earlier this week by health and consumer commissioner Tonio Borg, was endorsed by member states at a special meeting organized by the Commission in Brussels.

"Consumers expect the EU, national authorities and all those involved in the food chain to give them all the reinsurance as regards what they have in their plates," Borg said.

A scandal erupted across Europe after horsemeat was found in food products such as burgers and lasagna while being mislabeled as beef, thus bringing into question food control in Europe's single market and damaging consumer confidence.

It remains unclear how and where the mislabeling happened, which seemed aimed at squeezing more profits.

Food stores and markets have pulled large amounts of relevant meet products from shelves, while Europol, the European Union police agency, has been tasked to coordinate an EU-wide fraud investigation.

According to EU legislation, horsemeat can be used for meat products on the condition that it is declared on the label.

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