EU Adopts Control Plan to Detect Fraud in Marketing of Foods

The European Union recommended a plan to investigate fraudulent food-marketing practices in a bid to restore consumer confidence following the mislabelling of beef products containing horse meat.

The plan’s controls are to run for one month, after which they may be extended for a further two months, the European Commission, the EU’s Brussels-based executive, said today in an e-mailed statement. The EU will fund 75 percent of the cost of the program, according to the statement.

Retailers across the region have withdrawn frozen meat products after they were shown to contain horse DNA. The scandal has led policy makers to urge the industry to make the food chain less opaque.

Under the EU’s plan, controls will be set up, mainly at retail level, for foods marketed to consumers as containing beef to detect the presence of unlabelled horse meat. Tests also will be carried out for possible residue of in horse meat of phenylbutazone, a potentially harmful veterinary drug known as bute.

The plan foresees testing of total of 2,250 beef samples across the EU, ranging from 10 to 150 per member state. To test for bute, the program prescribes the testing of one sample for every 50 tons of horse meat, with each nation carrying out at least five tests, according to the EU.