In a statement, the EU Health and Consumer Commissioner sought to assure members of the public that he is following very closely the situation that has arisen in some member states over the last few days concerning the fraudulent labelling of horsemeat discovered in some food products. He said he hoped that the national investigations will uncover soon the culprit and that the Commission stood ready to help in any possible way.
Since the European Commission was notified EU civil servants have been working with national authorities to see that the source of the issue is properly identified and addressed and specifically, this has involved working with the French, Romanian, Dutch, Luxembourg and British authorities.
The Commissioner said: "The EU food safety system is one of the safest in the world. Thanks to this system and its capacity for full traceability, national authorities are in a position to investigate this matter so as to find the source of the problem.
Adding: "The European rules on traceability have allowed Member States to discover rapidly the origin and distribution chain of the fraudulent products. The EU Rapid Alert system in turn also allows us to circulate in all 27 EU countries all information related to the investigations on this scandal."
The Irish presidency has organised an informal meeting today with the most affected member states (Franck, UK, Luxembourg, Sweden, Romania and Poland) to take stock of the situation and see what action may be appropriate.
This will be followed by a joint press conference at 18.30 GMT.
An extraordinary meeting of the Standing Committee on the Food Chain has been called on Friday, 15 February to discuss the situation with all member states. The issue is also likely to be on the agenda of the next Agriculture Council on 25 February.