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Netherlands officials order meat recall

Up to 50,000 tonnes of meat whose source is unclear while being sold as beef across Europe, may contain horse meat.

Last Modified: 10 Apr 2013 17:23
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Dutch inspectors examining Willy Selten's records have found that the origin of the meat it supplies is unclear [AFP]

Dutch authorities have recalled 50,000 tonnes of meat sold as beef across Europe because its exact source cannot be established and it may contain horse meat.

The announcement  on Wednesday was the latest development in a far-reaching scandal that saw horse meat mixed in with other meats and sold as beef across Europe without informing consumers.

Esther Filon of the Netherlands Food and Consumer Product Safety Authority said 370 different companies around Europe and 132 more in the Netherlands were affected by the latest recall because they bought meat from two Dutch trading companies.

"It might contain traces of horse meat, but we don't know for certain at the moment if this is the case," Filon said.

The recall covers countries including France, Germany and Spain, and the nations involved are responsible for managing it.

Filon said that the recall covered meat dating back to January 1, 2011, up until February 15 this year, when the companies at the heart of the recall were placed under heightened scrutiny and faced criminal investigations.

She said that because the recall dated back more than two years some of the meat may already have been consumed.

"If meat has an unclear source then the law, the general food law, says it is no longer fit for human or animal food,'" Filon said.

It was not immediately clear how much of the meat was likely to be tracked down.

Dutch authorities say they have no plans to test all the meat.

Companies named

The Netherlands Food and Consumer Product Safety Authority named two companies with the same owner as the source of the meat covered by Wednesday's recall: Wiljo Import en Export BV and Vleesgroothandel Willy Selten BV.

Inspectors examining Willy Selten's records found that the origin of the meat it supplied was unclear.

The authority said that meant it was impossible to confirm slaughterhouses had been acting according to procedure.

It said it did not know where the meat had ended up, but it could have been used in frozen products.

"The buyers have probably already processed the meat and sold it on," it said in a written statement.

The authority said there was no immediate suggestion of any danger to human health.

Tests in Ireland in January found some beef products contained horse meat. That triggered recalls of ready-made meals in several countries and damaged confidence in Europe's vast and complex food industry.

The scandal led to recalls of products ranging from frozen lasagna to Ikea's Swedish meatballs.

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Source:
Agencies
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