EU's agriculture ministers meet for horsemeat summit13/02/2013 - 07:25:25
Agriculture ministers from the countries affected by the horsemeat scandal are to gather in Brussels today for a meeting chaired by Agriculture Minister Simon Coveney.
The meeting has been called by Ireland, as holders of the EU Presidency.
Ireland and the UK are to put together their own response to the crisis, while the EU formulates a wider plan.
Livestock chairman with the IFA Henry Burns said Minister Coveney must ensure there are more stringent controls over meat processors here.
"That secondary (meat) processing sector right across Europe needs to be watched much more closely in terms of what it's putting and the labels it's putting on it's products," he said. "The consumer needs to be reassured that what's on the pack (label), is in the pack."
Today's meeting gets underway at 4.30pm irish time.
Meanwhile, two British processing plants were raided and shut down late yesterday as part of the inquiry into the scandal.
The UK's Food Standards Agency (FSA), accompanied by police, swooped on a slaughterhouse and a meat manufacturer after apparently uncovering “a blatant misleading of consumers”.
Peter Boddy slaughterhouse in Todmorden, West Yorkshire, and meat processing plant Farmbox Meats at Llandre in Aberystwyth, West Wales, had records seized and were temporarily shut down pending the outcome of investigations into claims they supplied and used horse carcasses in burgers and kebabs.
The FSA said it had “detained” all meat found at the premises and seized paperwork and customer lists from the two companies.
The news comes as supermarket chain Waitrose announced it had withdrawn its beef Essential British Frozen Meatballs after pork was bound in two batches.
Until now, meat linked to the scandal is thought to have come from suppliers in Europe, but for the first time it appears the contamination may also stem from British premises.
Andrew Rhodes, FSA director of operations, said: “I ordered an audit of all horse producing abattoirs in the UK after this issue first arose last month and I was shocked to uncover what appears to be a blatant misleading of consumers.
“I have suspended both plants immediately while our investigations continue.”
Slaughterhouse owner Peter Boddy said he would co-operate with FSA officers and claimed they had not “raided” his Todmorden premises.
He told ITV: “It was not a raid – they are welcome to visit whenever they want, they just wanted to see my records which I will be showing them.”
The Welsh Government minister for agriculture, Alun Davies, said: “Integrity and trust are essential in the food chain. I would be appalled if these allegations are proven. The Welsh Government is working closely with the Department for the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) and the FSA to ensure this matter is dealt with swiftly and decisively.”
Supermarket giant Tesco yesterday became the latest retailer in the UK to drop a major supplier after discovering a range of spaghetti bolognese ready meals contained more than 60% horse meat.
It followed frozen food firm Findus and Aldi in finding the meat in products made by French firm Comigel and last night joined them in dropping the company as a supplier.
French consumer safety authorities said companies from Romania, Cyprus and the Netherlands, as well as its own firms, were involved.
Romanian authorities confirmed they are investigating while their Dutch counterparts said they are ready to do so if necessary.
But Romanian prime minister Victor Ponta has said his government had no evidence that any companies in Romania had broken any European laws.
The National Beef Association (NBA) has suggested the addition of the words “United Kingdom origin” to packaging to prevent “further cheating” by suppliers.
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