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Wednesday 21 March 2018

Coveney: ‘Complex’ meat issue will take time to solve

Agriculture Minister Simon Coveney
Agriculture Minister Simon Coveney

SIMON Coveney has said that the horsemeat scandal is not confined to one rogue trader selling horsemeat labelled as beef.

The Agriculture Minister was speaking after the European Union health commissioner called on member states to carry out mandatory testing on beef and horsemeat products to ascertain the scale of the problem.

Coveney told RTE Radio the tests were “a start” and said that this was now an “EU-wide problem” that required an EU-wide response.

He also gave an example of the scale of the problem, detailing test results in the UK where Findus lasagne and bolognaise was found to have 100 per cent horsemeat instead of beef.

“Those products were produced by a Swedish company who actually sourced processed product from a French company in Luxembourg, who sourced product through a Cypriot trader, who sourced through the Netherlands and the Netherlands actually sourced horsemeat from Romania,” he said..

“So you begin to realise that actually this is commodity cheap meat moving around the European Union and somebody in that supply chain has fraudulently sold horsemeat as beef.”

He added: “I suspect that this isn’t just one trader, one rogue trader in one country, I think that it’s broader than that.

“I think there are a number of people who have been selling horsemeat as beef and so it’s taking some time to get the bottom of it.”

The Minister said there was “genuine co-operation happening now between countries”.

He said that Polish vets had been in Ireland yesterday to examine evidence collected by the Department of Agriculture about the source of meat products produced here that contained equine DNA.

He added that he expected further EU-wide tests to be carried out in April and May.

Each test will cost roughly €400 each, and this cost will be shared by the European Commission.

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