EU crime-fighting agency to take lead on inquiries into horse meat scandal


Europol, the European Union’s law enforcement agency, is to co-ordinate criminal investigations into the horse meat scandal, in the first EU response to the deepening crisis.

The European Commission last night also announced a series of proposed tests to complement existing testing at a national level. The proposed tests comprise random DNA testing of processed beef products, and tests to detect phenylbutazone (bute) residues in abattoirs.

The three-month programme of control measures will go before a special meeting of the EU’s standing committee on the food chain tomorrow.

The proposals by the commission will be in the form of a recommendation. However, a spokesman for Tonio Borg, the European commissioner for health and consumer policy, said he was confident that all member states would back the scheme. The commission will contribute about 50 per cent of the estimated €3 million cost.

After a meeting of eight EU countries in Brussels, Minister for Agriculture Simon Coveney said the horse meat issue was an “EU-wide problem that needs a EU-wide solution”.

He said the new proposals by the European Commission, if approved, should reassure consumers. Simultaneous investigations were under way across the EU, he added. “We need to find out who was responsible, how it happened and put systems in place to make sure it doesn’t happen again.”