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European farm ministers to meet in Brussels today.
French president Francois Hollande has called for compulsory labelling and traceability of meat used in processed foods in Europe to prevent a repeat of the horsemeat scandal. Speaking at the start of the Paris agricultural fair on Saturday, he said: “There needs to be traceability – that is what I want from talks on a European level. We need compulsory labelling on meats that will be used in processed foods,” BBC informs.Agriculture ministers from France and Germany agreed on Friday the need for origin labelling and said they would try to find a deal on meat traceability at a meeting of European farm ministers in Brussels today. Hollande said that while waiting for European legislation, France would encourage voluntary initiatives to improve labelling. Meanwhile, French firm Spanghero, at the heart of the horsemeat scandal rocking Europe, will remain barred from the wholesale trade of frozen meat, the agriculture ministry said Friday, releasing the results of a probe, TV5 informs. The company sparked a continental food alert by allegedly passing off 750 tonnes of horsemeat as beef, and had its sanitary license suspended last week. B&F Meats, which has processing plants in Thomastown and Carrick-on-Suir – Irland, has become the latest company to be embroiled in the horse meat scandal, according to herald.ie.Sodexo, one of Britain’s largest private catering suppliers which provides food for public services including the armed forces, schools, care homes and prisons, has withdrawn all frozen beef products across most of its business after the discovery of horse DNA in one of the samples it tested.On Friday Birds Eye withdrew a range of beef products as a precaution after its chilly con carne was found to be contaminated by horse DNA.The French industry body for horse butchers, Interbev Equins, estimates there has been a rise of up to 15 pc in horsemeat sales since the scandal broke. With French customers now wary of ready meals – frozen food sales are down by 5 pc in France, and trade at organic stores has risen – shoppers have been flocking to traditional artisan butchers, particularly to get horse. About 16 pc of French households buy horsemeat, consuming about 20,000 tons a year.Also, traces of horse DNA have been found in six tonnes of minced beef and 2,400 packs of lasagne Bolognese seized from a company in Italy. The products were packaged by Italian group Primia, based near Bologna. The health ministry said Primia had used meat from another company in Brescia and originally supplied by two other companies, also based there. It is the first positive test in Italy since the scandal erupted last month. Two other German companies, Dreistem-Konserven and Vossko, have been accused of manufacturing products containing horsemeat. Both have also blamed their own suppliers. On Friday, Germany’s consumer affairs ministry announced that it had now found traces of horse DNA in 67 of 830 food products tested.
Tainted food to poor
Germany’s development minister has suggested that horsemeat mislabelled as beef should be distributed to the poor. Dirk Niebel said he supported the proposal by a member of the governing CDU party, and concluded: “We can’t just throw away good food.” The opposition dismissed the idea, but a priest said it should be considered, dw.de informs. German Minister of Social Affairs Ursula von der Leyen responded to the idea by saying it was “absurd.” “Whether rich or poor, everyone wants to know what they eat. And it must be flawless,” she said. SPD General Secretary Andrea Nahles referred to it as inhuman, explaining that it’s an “insult to people with low incomes,” whilst Green Party leader Renate Kunast said “we want good quality for all,” rather than treating some as second-class citizens. Consumer Affairs Ministry spokesman Holger Eichele told the debate was pointless due to legalities. “The passing on of these products is absolutely impossible,” Eichele said. He went on to explain that unless the origin of all the ingredients was known, transfers of the food were illegal.