European agriculture and food safety ministers are meeting in Brussels today to discuss the mislabelling of meat products sold in the EU. The emergency meeting was called by Ireland (which currently holds the rotating EU presidency) in response to a growing scandal involving traces of horse meat found in beef burgers and other products sold in Britain, Ireland, France and Sweden.

Investigators are currently working to determine exactly how the contaminated meat entered the supply chain, but the public finger-pointing has already begun in earnest. Originally, Poland was blamed for the scandal, though DNA testing by the Polish authorities seems to suggest otherwise. More recently, accusations have focused on Romania, and Romanian Prime Minister Victor Ponta has been forced to angrily deny his country’s involvement.

No government wants to see anything resembling the BSE crisis of the 1990s, when consumer confidence in British beef evaporated (and, indeed, British beef was banned in the EU for several years). However, it will take time for investigators to verify the source of the contamination, and in the meantime the accusations will likely continue. In 2011, an outbreak of E. Coli in Germany was originally blamed on Spanish vegetables (which were then banned in several European countries), and it took almost a month until the outbreak could finally be traced to a farm in Lower Saxony, Germany.

However, unlike the 2011 E. Coli case, authorities are advising that there is very little risk to public health from eating horse meat burgers. Public outrage has also been markedly stronger in some countries than in others. Indeed, French commentators have been somewhat puzzled by the levels of disgust registered in the UK, where horse meat is seen as somewhat taboo.

So, do we need tougher rules? In response to the scandal, there have already been calls for stronger EU labelling rules. The Socialist group in the European Parliament, for example, is arguing that companies should be forced to “specify which country the meat in their lasagnes and other dishes comes from.”

In Britain, on the other hand, the meat industry is arguing that EU rules are already too tough. Specifically, the rules banning the sale of “Mechanically Separated Meat” (also known as “white slime”) have been blamed. The UK meat industry had previously obtained cheap meat for value product lines by using so-called “Desinewed Meat” (DSM), obtained by “mechanically rubbing the carcasses of cows under high pressure”. However, the European Commission recently ruled that DSM should not be classified as meat, forcing British producers to look outside the UK for cheap suppliers.

What do YOU think? Would tougher EU rules forcing companies to label where meat comes from have helped to avoid the horse meat scandal? Or would it merely lead to a witch-hunt against food from Eastern Europe? Let us know your thoughts and comments in the form below, and we’ll take them to policy-makers and experts for their reactions.

IMAGE CREDITS: CC / Flickr – Aussiegal7

64 comments Post a commentcomment

  1. avatar
    Florin Holban

    Not at all. Branding is only a way to make it more expensive. I agree however that the theory is good.

  2. avatar
    Ger Icb

    Of course. What an obvious question! We need the origin of ingredients in all food products clearly labelled. Unfortunately vested interests lobbied against this in the EU a couple of years ago.

  3. avatar
    Better Failling

    Tougher rules might work, for a while?
    We need to change our focus.
    Right now too many of us consider (hoarding) money to be the goal of their life. Until enough of us won?t understand that money are nothing but means towards some higher ends this cat and mouse play between regulators and market ?twisters? will go on with ever increasing frenzy.

  4. avatar
    Christos Mouzeviris

    That is capitalism for you…. Make profit no matter what… We all support it we all buy into it, so scandals like these should not surprise us…. You want to eat burger daily and to be cheap as well? Well there you go… Personally I do not mind eating horse meat… The only thing that worries me in this story is the quality of the horse meat that was in the burgers… Label it right make it legal so people will know what they are eating and the authorities will be able to oversheer the quality of the meat that reaches us so there will be no health risk…..

  5. avatar
    Mire Usrt

    It’s not a meat scandal. It a kind of missinformed, just because the presure against romanians coming into UK. They try to fill with mud this people. So, horse meat is eatable! Try it soon.

  6. avatar

    Of course. What an obvious question!
    More tougher EU rules means only more impediment in the functioning of Internal Market and an unfair treatment of Eastern Countries…….. May I ask: is there anybody who don’t clearly see the mark up of all food products derived from this new labelling?

  7. avatar
    Cristian Dinescu

    Just detailed specs on the composition and origins of any food, tight controls and harsh penalties for those companies who lie.

  8. avatar
    David Fuzzey

    horse meat sold as beef is a scandal Mire….and we do not eat Horse in Britain…..and considering no one knows where it came from it is hardly an attack on Romania.

  9. avatar
    Al Faro

    and also what they eat. I would like to know if animals eat OGM or not. they have to tell us.

  10. avatar

    Many EU rules are only on paper. The Brussels bureaucracy is not able to enforce its
    “laws”, everything depends on member states administration and society. If a memberstate is corrupt, the EU rules will not be enforced on the ground. Hence, simply stricter rules want work in those cases. The best solution is to exclude perpetrators from sharing EU budgets and common decision making.

  11. avatar
    Gina Stodinetchi

    “British police raids took place Tuesday at the slaughterhouse Slaughterhouse Peter Boddy Licensed from Todmorden in West Yorkshire, which has a license for slaughtering horses.

    Horse slaughterhouse provides housing to Farmbox Meats Ltd in Llandre in Aberystwyth, which transforms it into hamburger meat labeled as beef or kebab, which was allegedly sold as lamb. “So if the meat is from UK?

  12. avatar
    David Fuzzey

    wrong….all they do is bone horse meat on one day…beef on a different day, it is not a processing plant the horse meat goes to Belgium….and I will say it again….we do NOT eat Horse meat in Britain……oh and one more thing…if you fish rivers and lakes you do not eat the fish….perch..carp etc….those that come to a lake equipped with a bbq to cook sad Carp,Perch,Tench etc etc WILL be thrown in the water followed by their BBQ.

  13. avatar
    Gina Stodinetchi

    What I do not understand from this story is why meat don`t go to France or Belgium where is considered delicacy and people pay a lot of money to eat it and go in UK ?

  14. avatar
    Gina Stodinetchi

    It is nothing wrong with eating horse meat, or rats or dogs like in Asia, but must be people`s choice. Here the problem is peoples don`t know. And from here I ask do we really know what we eat?

  15. avatar
    Cristian Zarnescu

    5. WHY MGO Nonsanto, Bayer, Cargrill, Synerga, etc are allowed in EU and is proived is danver to health; why are are so many toxin chemical sin our food in supermakrets? Why they are toxic heavy metal such as aluminimu peroxide and mercury derivates in vaccines including infants vaccins when this metals are lin ked with autism, alzeiheimener, alergies and long term sickness?…5737.6845.0.7898.…0.0…1ac.1.9I8Xi7iaWmo

  16. avatar
    Cristi Dumitrescu

    is simple
    checks should be made where things seem to go ok
    lack of routine checks allow business cheating customers

  17. avatar
    Hasan Özdemir

    The problem is not to eat to the horse meat, but a fraud and similar things threatens the lifestyle of Europe clearly. Because the lifestyle has to lean some secure standards. You might love the horse meat, even rats or dogs as individual.

  18. avatar
    Paul X

    To those who say “whats wrong with eating horse meat”
    Some countries eat certain foodstuffs that even the French would find disgusting, where do you draw the line as to what is acceptable to put in peoples food without them knowing about it?
    However little the amount of meat is in a beefburger what is certain is it should only be beef, if it has horse as well then call it a beef & horse burger, but then I wouldn’t bother shipping them to the UK
    The whole thing is about deception, and to answer the question no, tougher regulations from the EU wouldn’t have stopped this, actually making sure countries enforce the regulations already in place would have
    This is just one more example of how the EU fails miserably, in actually making countries conform to all the regulations they churn out.

  19. avatar
    David Fuzzey

    Gina as I said in the post above yours…we do not eat Horse….the meat from that plant goes to Belgium.

  20. avatar
    Ștefan Bădiță

    Roumania is unguilty!!!! U.K. is always against Roumanians, and they say without thinking, what is bad is coming from Roumania!

  21. avatar
    Gina Stodinetchi

    Dear David I know you don`t eat horse meat in UK . We don`t eat here in Romania either. Sell of this meat in your country is the result of ferocious capitalism and rush profit, equation in which human being does not occur. The guilty must pay, but do not throw the blame on Romania until you have proof. We do not want nor invading UK as your tabloids say. When you read your newspaper and look at TV try to be more selective, try to distinguish between reality and fiction. Because your tabloids kill Lady Di and now kill relationship between people. You are not the kings of the world , now you are up but never now what happens tomorrow.

    • avatar

      Bravoooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooo Gina……. UK & UE must apologise to ROMANIAN NATION for all the speculations and accusations against THEM……. and by the way RO. is not a African Country, so idiotic even they don’t know where about is Romania, is called Europe not Africa…. and also Romania is not a Poor Country never was and never will be….. Romania is a victim of a horrible management that’s all…Once again Bravoooooooooooo GINA for your Comment…Proud to be Romanian…

  22. avatar
    David Fuzzey

    I was only pointing out no one was blaming anyone as no one knows where the horse meat came from……the tabloid press who caused Di`s death were not from the UK.

  23. avatar

    “Le ministre français de la Consommation, Benoît Hamon a déclaré que la société agroalimentaire française Spanghero savait qu’elle revendait de la viande chevaline en lieu et place celle de bovidés. «Ce trafic durait depuis plusieurs mois» et a porté sur plus de 750 tonnes, dont 550 tonnes livrées au fabriquant de plats cuisinés Comigel.”

  24. avatar
    Gina Stodinetchi

    They killed her slowly, commenting every step, every gesture she made, following her everywhere. Probably would not have got there if it was not your thirst for juicy details and you show journalists where is them place. And you do same with her children.

  25. avatar
    Roberta Gogos

    Whatever! – one dead animal’s flesh is anothers – we need to stop being complete hypocrites. As if there is any difference.

  26. avatar
    David Fuzzey

    oh really?…so its was a British paper that showed Kate topless……it was a British paper that showed her pregnant in a bikini?…nope……when asked not to report Harry`s first combat mission did they?….no they kept it secret….so if you wish to shoot your mouth off I suggest you load your brain first.

  27. avatar
    David Fuzzey

    not seen that I admit…I don`t read tabloids and would rather be lobotomised than read the sun….my apologies your brain was loaded.

  28. avatar
    Gina Stodinetchi

    Newspapers feed the greed of the people for spicy news. This paper defines the state of your nation. If you search on Google you’ll see quotes from The Sun on a lot of sites.

  29. avatar
    Limbidis Adrian

    Why do i smell a rat?
    UK’s recent anti “invasion” ( oh the horror of a few hundreds or thousands romanians or bulgarians coming over , better get some Pakistani or some other far away people ) is most likely at work here.
    Funny how they were so quick to jump to the conclusion. And the media is complicit in this “joke”.
    Every citizen in Europe has heard by now of the FALSE accusation. But few have heard the LATER report explaining that it wasn’t as it seemed. The media was awfully quiet on that one. Guess what impression Europe has on Romania now.

    And we wonder why they don’t feel welcome.
    How would they?

    Tougher regulations? On one hand YES, to punish false claims that will almost RUIN a country’s exports. On the other hand, i’d the media to be made responsible for giving out false reports – they spread the misinformation in the first place.

  30. avatar
    catherine benning

    First of all, how many of us know what these regulations are, in full. What actions is taken to ensure this kind of false labelling doesn’t occur? How rigorous are they with this? As far as i am aware, Europe, including the UK, resents making rules and regualtions which those who sell food to us must abide by. They drop the requirement as soon as they have put it off the front pages.

    So who is to blame? It has to be the seller. The middle man who refuses to adequately label what you buy because he doesn’t want you to know what he is selling you. As if you did know you wouldnt buy it. He does’nt want you to know what it is you are eating and giving your family to eat. This horsemeat scandal is the tip of the iceberg. The rules and regualtions, with stiff penalties of the criminal kind, must be enforceable for a start. They must also be so severe it would do away with conspiracy. As to collude in such fraud would bring penalties on every level. It is the responsiblity of the ‘seller’ to ensure that what he is offering you is as it is labelled. To pretend it is not their responsibility is fraudulent. Supermarkets and their managers or Corporate heads know full well what they are sourcing, and if they don’t they are culpable, because they are selling you produce they have not checked, whilst pretending they have. In effect, abusing your trust.

    It is imperative that those who use themselves as go betweens in these situations are held responsible for any product they pass on through their outlets. If they source a product from wherever that may be, in or outside Europe, then it is down to them to be sure what they have been told of its contents is subjected to their testing. And no excuses must be acceptable.

    Come on, don’t pretend this is new, you people in government have known this kind of practice has been going on for donkeys years. Lets remember the Sweeney Todd story of meat pies sold in Fleet Street that turned out to be human meat. from those who went in for a har cut. And my Grandfather used to have a special, very select, restaurant in London where he ate the best fillet of steak during WW2. Only to find that after government scrutiny of meat supplied to these restaurants, it turned out to be horse. My Grandfathers major complaint was, the money he had paid for the fillet being outrageous and that he should be reimbursed accordingly.

    So, government officials and governments altogether have been well aware of what has been going on and how much money was being made all along. Which is why they didn’t want to secure for us all correct and understandable labelling in the first place.

    They also are well aware that when you outsource to countries without regulation or from poverty stricken sources the liklihood is, you will be open to all manner of fake ingredients. Try having scientists look into what you are getting that is pre made in your sauce bottle. Or the hooves and hair already known about in burgers along with mechanically collected meat. What does that mean? It means the parts of an animal you would not normally want to ingest. Along with its droppings. And they know about it but stay quiet, as the food lobby pays good bribes.

    So get off the high horse, no pun intended, this is not new at all. All that is new, is that you have been found out and are trying to hide the full facts from reaching the public, in case it means a criminal case is in line for the powerful companies who are the real culprits in this scandal. The small man is simply the pawn.

  31. avatar
    Cristina Ojog

    I think Romania should stop taking well, everything, from every country in Europe just because it’s a poor country. We all must obey the same european rules so, every member state must specify on every product the origin of it’s content.

    • avatar
      Limbidis Adrian

      Excuse me? Romania is not a “poor country”. It just has horrendous management.

  32. avatar
    Efrossiny Exarchoulakou

    i believe the best policy to avoid that kind of incidents in the future is the change of austerity policies which produce these phenomena

  33. avatar
    Mary Koursoumi

    the stricter rules and regulations should not only be voted and accepted by the members of the european union as part of their legislation, but stricter controls should be made on the subject of the proper implementation of these rules. here the problem is the lack of proper control that contributed to these outcome. stricter policies should be applied and all members of EU have to cooperate to avoid similar situation in the future.

  34. avatar
    Paula Mcilwaine

    why not eat horses?? we eat all other meat – just label it properly and dont pump any animal with drugs…

  35. avatar
    Mỹ Hạnh Phạm

    well, because horsemeat doesnt belong to human food chain due to phenylbutazone which is used to treat horses…

  36. avatar
    Zissu C. Carabaş

    You fools were so quick on attacking Romania, huh? Maybe think for a second time before throwing knives at a country just because you feel like it, and because of your so-called “superiority”.
    As Gina Stodinetchi said, “UK & EU must apologise to the Romanian nation.”
    I hope you will all take note of the fact that before the meat even arrived in Great Britain, it went through the Netherlands and Cyprus.
    You could assume how many errors could have been made along the way, after the meat has been sent out from Romania.

  37. avatar
    Jude De Froissard

    big companies will always find a way to make more profits by cheating somewhere…….not only with meat……

  38. avatar

    This debate can only lead to a witch hunt. Its subliminal question is accusing the country of origin has, by default, unhealthy meat. Which is rubbish to say the least. What good would do to know the country of origin? Does that mean any meat coming from Western Europe is, by default, clean and healthy?!
    The label should say the type of meat it contains and the organisation who undertook a control over it, to admit it’s that particular type of meat.
    I believe this is just another way of the West showing its musclea to the East.

    • avatar
      catherine benning

      This attitude is one of the reasons the people of the EU should be very sceptic about whether the Eastern countries are fit for entry into our system. They have a careless lean towrd everything they do.

  39. avatar

    I would say EU rules are the cause of this scandal. And things that contributed to the cause of something, should not be pretending to be able to prevent it.

    Some border checks might have stopped this thing dead in its tracks.

  40. avatar
    Hasan Özdemir

    ? advise watching a film for the horse meat scandal which the rundskop. ?t was directed by the director Michael R. Roskam.

  41. avatar
    Dr Athanassios E. Tyrpenou

    Food Scandal there will be always come up and the most appropriate action to be taken would be the enforcement of STRICK EU MEASURES for those who offend against the law. Fraud in the food chain must be punished at once!

  42. avatar
    Peter Schellinck

    It’s not a matter of tougher rules; it’s simply a matter of honesty and principle. If the consumer is misled in such away it’s criminal and must be addressed accordingly.

  43. avatar

    EU regulations might help checkmate horse meat scandal in the future. However, inhouse QC and QA by food vendors and retailers, as well as the consumers use of RFID system via their mobile, would go a long way in preventing adulterated meat and meat products from getting their way into the food chain.

  44. avatar
    S Brown

    They also need to address what also goes on in slaughter houses, there was a epetition over 105,000 people stating that the ethics, CCTV in slaughter houses is a must a sny breach of the legislation needs to be dealt with properly not a stupid fine and slap on the wrist!! Secondly transportation of animals and in particular horses is a joke in Europe I know for a fact that I have seen horses travelling on wrong passports, microchips don’t match and they have arrived with Strangles! Defra need to get their act together, the horses I am referring to over the course of last year, were saved by a rescue, then travelled months later from Portugal – no thorough checks are done, simply 10 horses 10 passports ….. Your in!!

    Not only that these horses were supposedly meant to go to slaughter initially …. How can they go to a SH when documentation doesn’t match, no assurance for the food chain again !

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