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Food safety

Horsemeat scandal affecting a number of European countries

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The discovery led major food companies like Tesco and Burger King to drop their Irish producers and Irish investigators to point the finger at Poland as the country of origin for raw materials that contained as much as 75 percent horse DNA. Poland has disputed the findings.

The decision to ask Irish manufacturers of processed meat products to carry out DNA testing was "a necessary step in order to provide further reassurance to Irish consumers and consumers of Irish food abroad," Ireland´s agriculture department said.

Ireland, which holds the EU presidency, also called a meeting of ministers from European countries affected by the horsemeat scandal.

European Union Health Commissioner Tonio Borg and ministers from EU countries affected by the horsemeat scandal will attend. The issue will also be on the agenda of the next formal meeting of EU agriculture ministers on February 25, Ireland said.

Concern grew last week when the British unit of frozen foods group Findus began recalling its beef lasagne on advice from its French supplier, Comigel, after tests showed concentrations of horsemeat in a range from 60 to 100 percent.

While horsemeat is not itself a food safety hazard, food inspectors are concerned it may contain the veterinary drug phenylbutazone, or "bute," commonly used to treat horses.

Meat from animals treated with phenylbutazone may pose a risk to human health and is not allowed to enter the food chain.

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