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U.K. Proposed Easing Meat-Labeling Rules Before Horse Scandal

Feb. 14 (Bloomberg) -- The U.K. proposed easing regulations on meat products and their labeling before the recent scandal involving horse meat discovered in beef products, a panel of lawmakers said.

In a report published today, Parliament’s Environment Committee criticized proposals that minced meat in the U.K. should be allowed higher fat and collagen content than is allowed in other member states, and that labels for loose meat products shouldn’t have to declare their meat content.

“There is a risk that the consumer would have even less clarity about what our meat contains than at present,” the lawmakers said in the report released in London. “This is not the time for the government to be proposing reducing the labeling standards applied to British food.”

The U.K.’s mislabeled meat scandal has spread to Europe. The Food Standards Agency has raided two British meat processing plants, one in West Yorkshire and one in West Wales, in an investigation into horse meat in products which were supposed to be beef intended for kebabs and burgers.

The U.K. Department for the Environment defended proposing easing meat labeling requirements. “These regulations are about striking the right balance between improved information for consumers and red tape on food businesses,” it said in an e-mailed statement. “We will consider the consultation responses before we make a final decision.”

The Environment Committee recommended giving the FSA more powers to order food testing, and tighter rules around the tests.

To contact the reporter on this story: Robert Hutton in London at rhutton1@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: James Hertling at jhertling@bloomberg.net

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