February 27th 2013 05:57
Food products supposedly made from beef have been found to contain horse DNA in Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Denmark, France, Germany, Greece, Hong Kong, Ireland, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, and the United Kingdom.
The products are processed foods such as lasagne, meat ravioli, meat tortellini meat patties and meatballs. Sources of production of the tainted products or the raw materials include Austria, Belgium, Brazil, Cyprus, Germany, Hungary, Italy, Ireland, Poland and Romania.
Needless to say, food regulators across Europe are scrambling to increase testing of imported beef products. Time will tell how widespread this practice is.
The Uk’s Food Standards Agency issued its second summary report of industry test results on February 22nd, and companies returning positive test results for horse meat include ALDI, ASDA, Co-operative, Findus, Makro, Rangeland, Sodexo, Tesco, The Burger Manufacturing Company, and Whitbread Group.
On February 25th, the Czech Republic reported detecting horse DNA in frozen meatballs imported from Sweden and distributed by Ikea. Since then 24 countries have issued recalls on Ikea meatballs.
Food Standards Australia and New Zealand (FSANZ) says it appears unlikely meat substitution is occurring in Australia.
The Food Standards Code has composition, labelling and processing requirements for all meat. Food labelling laws require food to be truthfully labelled. For example, if a product is labelled as ‘Beef Lasagne’ then it must contain beef.
“Australia does not import hamburger patties from the UK or Ireland and we don’t import lasagne-style meals from France or other European Union countries,” a FSANZ spokesperson said.
“Beef and beef products can only be imported into Australia from a small number of countries and require strict government certification, including details of the country of origin.”
FSANZ and the Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry (DAFF) are continuing to monitor the situation to determine whether further action is warranted.
According to DAFF there is no indication that affected products in Europe have been exported to Australia, or that horse meat has been sold as beef in Australia.
In the past twelve months, imports of beef products have come from New Zealand, Croatia, Netherlands, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Italy, Latvia, Portugal, Slovenia, Estonia, Germany, Brazil and the United States of America.
The types of products imported from New Zealand include frozen raw or cooked beef and beef products such as meat pies, beef patties and beef jerky.
For all other countries only canned or shelf stable beef products may be imported due to biosecurity requirements. These products include foods such as beef goulash, beef pate, corned beef, luncheon meat, beef with various vegetables (such as beef stew) and canned beef.
For beef products that have a highly processed beef component such as in beef flavoured noodles or soups, the beef component, while quite small, must still comply with Australian requirements. These types of foods come from some of the previously mentioned countries but also others such as Thailand, China and the Republic of Korea.