A second round of coordinated pan-European testing for horse meat DNA in beef products was launched in April this year and finalised in July following a positive endorsement by Member States of a new Commission Recommendation.
The findings are encouraging as they show that the situation has significantly improved since 2013. The overall result of the recent coordinated testing in Member States is that only 0.61% of the samples tested positive for horse meatDNA, as compared to 4.6% in 2013.
Testing performed by the competent authorities – 2014
2 622 tests were carried out by the competent authorities in the 28 EU countries, Norway, Iceland and Switzerland to detect traces of horse meat DNA in beef products. The tests were carried out between April and July 2014. Of those tests, only 16 revealed positive traces of horse meat DNA.
(Residue testing was not repeated in 2014, due to the low level of samples that tested positive for residues in 2013.)
Testing performed by the competent authorities – 2013
7,259 tests tests were carried out by the competent authorities in the 27 EU countries, of which 4,144 tested for the presence of horse meat DNA and 3,115 tested for the presence of phenylbutazone. Of those tests, 193 revealed positive traces of horse meat DNA (4.66%) and 16 showed positive traces of phenylbutazone (0.51%).
Phenylbutazone is an anti-inflammatory drug used as a painkiller in veterinary medicine for pets and horses. The European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) and the European Medicines Agency (EMA) published a joint statement on 15 April 2013 which concluded that the risks associated with phenylbutazone were of "low concern for consumers due to the low likelihood of exposure and the overall low likelihood of toxic effects and that, on a given day, the probability of a consumer being both susceptible to developing aplastic anaemia and being exposed to phenylbutazone was estimated to range approximately from 2 in a trillion to 1 in 100 million."
Testing performed by the food business operators – 2013
Member States reported another 7,951 tests for the presence of horse meat DNA performed by food business operators (producers, processors and distributors). Of these, 110 contained horse meat DNA (1.38%). The positive samples found in relation to horse meat DNA combined with the very low levels of bute detected represents a small part of the overall production in EU.
Websites of competent authorities