No new findings of horse meat in Evira's random tests

16.4.2013

<p>The analyses carried out for Finnish Food Safety Authority Evira did not disclose any more food products containing horse meat DNA contrary to the labelling. Evira sent in February—March 2013 in compliance with the recommendations of the European Commission a total of 50 samples to be analysed for horse meat.</p>

The samples were collected in various parts of Finland, mostly in Southern Finland, by municipal control authorities in random tests in accordance with Evira's instructions. The analysis results are now available also for the last 30 samples. Not one of them contained horse meat DNA. The 20 samples analysed earlier in March disclosed a minor quantity of horse meat DNA, 1-5 percent, in one product although horse meat was not indicated in the labelling.

The European Commission had earlier instructed that products containing less than one percent of horse meat DNA according to analyses should not be notified to the rapid alert system of the authorities (RASFF). Due to the high sensitivity of DNA tests, they can disclose extremely small quantities of horse meat DNA, which can result from just different products being manufactured in consecutive processes. Evira has decided in adherence to the European Commission's recommendation that product withdrawal is not necessary due to DNA levels of less than one percent.

Just like any other food products, also products containing horse meat shall carry labelling, which meets regulatory requirements and provides information on e.g. the composition and manufacturing location of the product. If meat has been used in the product, the list of ingredients shall indicate, among other information, the animal species in question.

The product safety of foodstuffs is primarily based on the liability of the manufacturer. The manufacturers of food products are responsible for the compliance of the product with regulatory requirements and for correct information being provided in the labelling.

The recommendation of the European Commission (2013/99/EU) also urged Member States to analyse horse meat for residues of phenylbutazone. Four samples were taken from Finnish horses slaughtered in Finland, and in connection with veterinary border inspection, three samples were taken from horse meat imported from Canada. No phenylbutazone was found in any of the samples. Phenylbutazone is an anti-inflammatory medicine, which is not used in Finland.

More information:
Arja Kaiponen, Head of Unit, Product Safety Unit, tel. +358 50 386 8432
Minna Anthoni, Senior Researcher, Chemistry and Toxicology Research Unit,
tel. +358 40 137 8954 (DNA studies)
Kaija-Leena Saraste, Senior Officer, Food Hygiene Unit,
tel. +358 50 3868 424 (phenylbutazone studies)


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