'Criminal conspiracy' behind horsemeat scandal
Supermarkets in Sweden and Germany remove 'beef' products from their shelves as the horsemeat scandal widens.PT0M0S 620 349
EUROPEAN Union ministers have called in Europe's law enforcement agency to help tackle the spreading crisis over mislabelled frozen meals containing horse meat.
They have also promised rapid DNA food testing to try to restore consumer confidence.
''We have to get to the bottom of these cases,'' British Environment Minister Owen Paterson said after an emergency Brussels meeting of the countries affected by the scandal. ''This is a criminal conspiracy to defraud the public.''
European Health Commissioner Tonio Borg said the EU was calling on all 27 European Union states to carry out DNA tests on beef products to see if they contained horse meat.
Mr Borg said the commission would also urge checks for the equine veterinary drug phenylbutazone, which can be dangerous to humans, in all establishments handling raw horse meat.
These proposals will be examined on Friday at an extraordinary meeting of the EU's Standing Committee on the Food Chain after a large number of cases of horse meat being found in products supposed to have been made out of beef.
The scandal has engulfed Europe since horse meat was found in frozen lasagne sold in Britain under the Findus label, produced by French firm Comigel.
The day before the latest proposals were announced, British police raided two meat plants and France reported cases of horse meat being passed off as beef in frozen foods.
Germany announced a find of suspect lasagne on Wednesday, with similar cases cropping up in Switzerland, the Netherlands and Norway.