The European Union on Friday approved tighter controls on beef within its member states to determine the extent to which horsemeat is being fraudulently labeled as beef and sold to consumers.
The 27-member bloc also gave the green light for tests to determine whether horsemeat found at slaughterhouses contains residues of phenylbutazone, an anti-inflammatory drug used to treat horses that is potentially harmful to people.
The EU member states backed the recommendation presented Wednesday by the European Commission following an informal meeting of representatives of the countries affected by the scandal to date: Britain, France, the Netherlands, Poland, Luxembourg, Romania and Sweden.
Two types of tests are to be conducted, one involving DNA controls to determine whether horsemeat is being used in processed foods such as lasagna or Bolognese sauce.
DNA testing will be carried out on 2,250 processed beef samples, including 150 each in Spain, France, Britain, Italy, Germany and Poland, EU spokespersons said. Between 10 and 100 controls will take place in the rest of the bloc's member states.
The second test will aim to detect if horsemeat found at slaughterhouses contains residues of phenylbutazone, whose use in food-producing animals is prohibited.
One sample must be gathered per 50 tons of meat and each country must carry out at least five tests, the commission said.
The controls will take place in March with a view to obtaining results by April 15.
Based on the test results, Brussels will decide whether to recommend longer-term measures. EFE