Extraordinary meeting on horsemeat in the EU food chain:
- extracts from the exchange of views with Tonio BORG, Member of the EC in charge of Health and Consumer Policy
EP Committee on the Environment, Public Health and Food Safety
Lieu: Brussels, Belgium - European Parliament
End production: 28/02/2013 First transmission: 28/02/2013
An extraordinary meeting to debate the horse meat scandal was held today by the Committee on the Environment, Public Health and Food Safety. To draw the lessons that the EU should learn from this scandal, the health commissioner Tonio BORG was invited to exchange his view with MEPs. The necessity to reinforce the legislation comes after several cases where horse meat was found mislabelled as beef in many countries of the EU. MEPs want to make clear that this meat does not suppose any danger for public health. However, it is a case of fraud and something has to be done. More tests and heavier sanctions for offenders would be needed to prevent a second horse meat scandal.
Only the original language version is authentic and it prevails in the event of its differing from the translated versions.
||Exterior shot of the EP, Brussels.
||SOUNDBITE (English) Tonio BORG, Commissioner: "There are two series of tests in all member states: first, extensive DNA testing on beef products to check for the presence of horsemeat, so to check whether the labelling legislation regarding the ingredients has been observed".
||SOUNDBITE (English) Tonio BORG, Commissioner: "And the second verification will be for the absence of Phenylbutazone, commonly known as bute, in horsemeat in slaughter houses or at the border".
||SOUNDBITE (English) Tonio BORG, Commissioner: "These tests will be carried out for a period of one month, with the possibility of extension for further 2 months, and the first results should be reported to the Commission by the 15th of April. I have given the commitment to publish these results immediately".
||SOUNDBITE (English) Tonio BORG, Commissioner: "I believe that only the strictest and most complete transparency can begin to repair the damage done to the consumer's confidence".
||SOUNDBITE (English) Tonio BORG, Commissioner: "The traceability of fraudulently labelled products was immediate. There was not problem in tracing where the meat was produced, where it was processed, where it was stored. So the legislation is sound. Problems exist in the implementation and enforcement of the legislation and not in the legislation itself".
||SOUNDBITE (English) Tonio BORG, Commissioner: "To reinforce the element of dissuasiveness, the forthcoming proposal of the Commission to review the rules on official controls across the agri-food chain, will require member states to establish financial penalties applicable to intentional violations of food-chain rules, irrespective of whether there is a risk of health from the violation, at a level which offsets the financial gain sought through the violation. So we are trying to tighten in the official control the sanctions, but saying that they shouldn't only be dissuasive and appropriate, but also that the penalty should cover at least the financial gain what was made out of the fraud".
||SOUNDBITE (English) Linda McAVAN (S&D, UK): "It seems to me that we don't know now for how long people have been mislead with mislabelled horse meat, because it was just picked up in a random test. And you are going to test for a month; we don't know what's going to happen after that month; how can we know it won't happen again if we don't have a new system for testing in place by member states? There is a sort of idea that nothing is wrong with the system, but I don't think that's the view of many consumers".
||SOUNDBITE (French) Corinne LEPAGE (ALDE, FR): "It's very easy to come up with legislation and just giving it to member states to apply and control themselves. But we all know that everyone is cutting their budgets at home, having less and less civil servants and agents responsible for verification and controls. So that makes our legislation virtual and citizens want real and not virtual legislation".
||SOUNDBITE (English) Glenis WILLMOTT (S&D, UK): "It is a supply chain that is extremely complex, and if manufacturers have to be more vigilant because they have to label the country of origin on the meat they use in processed food maybe we will be in a different position. They have to take their responsibility seriously, the confidence is gone down, and sales of ready meals have gone down. So there is an economic case for them to do it. So manufacturers actually do checks on country of origin for meat in processed food, and they have been doing for some time. So if they can do it, why can't everybody else?"
||SOUNDBITE (English) Tonio BORG, Commissioner: "Let us not give the impression that this incident occurred because we did not have legislation on the labelling of the place of origin of the animals involved in these meat products, because it would be unfair to give this impression. If we want to grab this opportunity, some for one reason, others for other reason, of requesting an acceleration of animal labelling legislation to include also place of origin, why not? But it will not be an easy ride; there are issues both as regards internal market, as regards the cost of the system and who will bear them. So let's not think that this is an easy ride, which does not mean that we should not arrive there".
||Exit shots (2 shots).