France, Ireland, the UK, Romania, Poland, Luxembourg and the Netherlands are among the countries that will be represented at the meeting, which will be chaired by Irish Agriculture minister Simon Coveney.
The European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) has declared that it “stands ready” to provide scientific advice to the European Commission and Member States should it be required. EFSA said that the contamination of beef products with horsemeat raises issues of false labelling, food quality and traceability in the EU food chain.
It added that although there is no evidence at the moment of any food safety issues, risk managers from EU countries are already conducting extensive tests of meat products to assess their components.
“In the European food safety system, risk assessment is done separately from risk management,” the agency explained in a communiqué. “The European Commission, European Parliament and EU member states are responsible for determining European policies and making decisions to manage risks associated with the food chain such as this case of entry of horsemeat into the food chain.”
European investigations into the horsemeat contamination continue. French authorities claim they have identified two slaughterhouses in Romainia as possible sources of the contaminated beef supplied to French processor Comigel. However, the Romanian government has denied allegations that horsemeat left the Romanian slaughterhouses labelled as beef. Daniel Constantin, the Romanian agriculture minister, has insisted the country’s veterinarian authorities verify that meat products are as declared on their labels.
In the UK, food safety officials and police yesterday (15 February) raided a West Yorkshire slaughterhouse and Welsh processing plant, seizing meat and documents. The Food Standards Agency (FSA) said that it believed Peter Boddy Licensed Slaughterhouse supplied Farmbox Meats Ltd, in Aberystwyth, with horse carcasses. It added that officials were “looking into the circumstances through which meat products, purporting to be beef for kebabs and burgers, were sold when they were in fact horse.”
Both plants have denied any wrongdoing.