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Mon Feb 25, 2013 6:24AM
Workers at a meat-packing facility in Romania (file photo)

Workers at a meat-packing facility in Romania (file photo)

The European Union agriculture ministers are set to meet for talks that are expected to focus on the growing horsemeat scandal in Europe. The meeting is to be held on Monday in Brussels, where the ministers will focus on the origin of the contamination and measures to tackle the scandal. France and Germany have proposed a compulsory labeling on food products, enabling traceability. However, observers have said it would be difficult to reach a feasible deal since the supply chains in the meat industry are poorly regulated. In January, Irish food inspectors reported that horsemeat had been found in burgers labeled as beef stocked by a British supermarket chain. Probes were initiated in several EU countries, which revealed findings of up to 100 percent horsemeat in prepared frozen food sold in Britain, France and Sweden, resulting in supermarkets across the continent to withdraw the affected meals from their stocks. The reason for the mass withdrawal of mislabeled food was that a drug found in the horsemeat might be harmful to humans. However, an investigation has suggested that the adulteration was not accidental and it is believed to be the work of a criminal conspiracy. On February 9, French Consumer Affairs Minister Benoit Hamon said the horsemeat had originated in Romania, although there were links with French, Dutch and Cypriot firms and a factory in Luxembourg. Romania has denied the charges and its Agriculture Minister Daniel Constantin said on February 13 that “all the horsemeat provided by the Romanian companies that was placed on the EU market was correctly labeled.” CAH/HSN
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