Burgers with horse meat broke EU law
The EU commissioner for health and consumer policy has said Irish beef burgers containing horse meat have breached EU legislation.
Commissioner Tonio Borg said burgers labelled to suggest beef where other species of meat were present were “misleading and breaching EU legislation”.
Mr Borg was responding to a letter from Fine Gael MEP Mairéad McGuinness, dated January 16th, in which she sought his views on horse and pig DNA in beef burgers found in Irish supermarkets.
Mr Borg said while there was no legal definition of the term “burger” or “beef burger”, the labelling of foods must not mislead the purchaser. In addition to rules about food naming, he said the legislation required “all substances used in the manufacture or preparation of a food and still present in the finished product” to be listed in its ingredients.
Mr Borg said the sale names of burgers or other meat preparations which suggest the presence of beef where other species of meat are present were to be considered as “misleading and breaching EU legislation”.
New rules which will come into effect from December 2014 will require that meat products containing added proteins of a different animal origin be indicated, he said.
“A beef burger containing horse protein would have to be designated under the name ‘beef burger with horse protein’.”
The commissioner said he felt “existing enforcement tools” allowed national enforcers to identify problems as the Irish Food Safety Authority had.The authority has said it “would be in a position to take a prosecution” where there had been mislabelling.
Meanwhile, Burger King said its investigation into burger processor Silvercrest had found trace levels of horse DNA in four burger samples recently taken from the plant. It said this product had not been sold in its restaurants.
The chain said all restaurants in Britain, Ireland and Denmark were now using meat from suppliers in Germany and Italy but it remained committed to identifying suppliers that could produce 100 per cent Irish and British beef products.