Informal meeting with interested parties on horse meat issue: extracts from the press coference by Simon COVENEY, Irish Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine, and Tonio BORG, Member of the EC in charge of Health and Consumer Policy
Lieu: Brussels, Belgium - Council / Justus Lipsius
End production: 13/02/2013 First transmission: 13/02/2013
On 13 February, Agriculture Ministers from the EU's most affected countries discussed in Brussels the scandal over horse meat in products labelled as beef. Germany , France, Britain, Luxembourg, Sweden, Romania and Poland, sent their representatives to the Brussels talks with the EU Health Commissioner Tonio Borg. The meeting was chaired by Ireland, which holds the EU's otating presidency. Tonio Borg said the European Commission, the bloc's executive, was working closely with national authorities to identify the source of the problem. He stressed that it was an issue of deceptive labelling, and not a health scare at present. 'The consumer was consuming, until now, a healthy product, but a different healthy product from what he thought he was eating,' Tonio Borg said. Ready meal makers Findus and Comigel, as well as supermarket chains in France and Britain, have had to withdraw products over the past weeks after tests revealed they contained up to 100 per cent horse meat.
Only the original language version is authentic and it prevails in the event of its differing from the translated versions.
||General view of the room
||SOUNDBITE (in English) by Simon Coveney, Irish Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine: In the intervening period the UK, France and a number of other countries have also tested products that have give positive in the test of equine DNA whether lasagne, spaghetti Bolognese or other processed food. It is becoming clear that this is an EU wide problem that needs an EU wide solution and whereas the primary responsibility for reinforcement of traceability of labelling rules of regulation around protecting consumers in the food supply chain rest within individual Member States, there is also a coordinating role for the Commission.
||Cutaway of the audience
||SOUNDBITE (in English) by Tonio Borg, Member of the EC in charge of Health and Consumer Policy:
There are essentially three issues that we have discussed this evening. First of all the need of some central coordination role for a body in the European Union that put together the information on the data that have been collected by the individual Member States in their own investigations. And we have suggested that Europal will be the body to do that and we will be taking that forward tomorrow. Secondly we have the Commission initiative that I think is very responsible and sensitive and thirdly there was request from ministers that the commission would prioritize the report under the impact assessment that is underway on the labelling of process food and potential changes that we may consider collectively in Europe in the future.
||Cutaway of cameramen
||SOUNDBITE (in English) by Tonio Borg: We do have legislation on labeling; we do have legislation against fraud in labeling on meet products. No one has the right to indicate as beef something which is not beef, so the different ministers that have been affected by this problem have said that they want to investigate and if someone is responsible will be held responsible even criminally. That means that there is a law. You cannot prosecute anyone if there is no law. And this law is the result of European Union legislation on labeling.
||Cutaway of the audience