Dutch beef may contain horse

2013-04-10 22:26
(Picture: Supplied)

(Picture: Supplied)

Multimedia   ·   User Galleries   ·   News in Pictures Send us your pictures  ·  Send us your stories

The Hague - The Netherlands' food watchdog on Wednesday asked hundreds of companies across Europe, supplied by a Dutch wholesaler suspected of mixing beef and horse meat, to check 50 000 tons of suspect meat.

The latest saga comes after a vast food scandal that erupted across Europe after horsemeat was found in supposedly pure beef ready-made meals and burgers in Britain and Ireland.

The organisation sent a letter to 130 Dutch companies who were supplied with possible horse-contaminated beef from the Selten company asking them to "take it off the market as a precautionary measure" and "verify all products".

The NVWA said that although the meat's origin could not be guaranteed, "there are no signs of a danger to public health."

Around 370 companies across Europe could also be affected, the organisation said.

"The companies have possibly already processed the meat and sold it," the government's NVWA food and consumer watchdog said in a statement.

"We estimate it's about 50 000 tons of meat," it added.

NVWA spokesperson Esther Filon told AFP that the meat was supplied between January 2011 and February 2013 across Europe.

Already eaten

Dutch public television NOS reported that the suspect meat could be on supermarket shelves, notably in frozen food.

Because the meat was supplied in 2011, much of it has been eaten already, the NOS reported.

The NVWA has notified authorities in France, Germany and Spain through Europe's Rapid Alert System for Food and Feed to inform around 370 buyers supplied by Selten of its decision.

The companies have two weeks to report back to the NVWA, who has also informed health authorities in France, Germany and Spain.

Dutch officials in February raided the Selten meat processing plant in the south of the Netherlands on suspicion that it was mixing horsemeat with beef and selling it as pure beef.

Since the problem was first discovered in Ireland in January, governments have scrambled to figure out how and where the mislabelling of meat happened in the sprawling chain of production spanning abattoirs and meat suppliers across Europe.

The scandal has drawn in numerous large food companies including Swiss food giant Nestle and Swedish furniture giant Ikea, which last week stopped selling frozen elk lasagne after a batch was found to contain traces of pork.

Ikea began reintroducing meatballs in its restaurants worldwide last month after horsemeat was found in the product in February.

Dutch politicians reacted with shock to the NVWA's announcement on Wednesday, with the Animal Party (PvdD) leader saying she would ask for a parliamentary debate on Thursday.

How many meals ?

Marianne Thieme said she wanted a debate to find out how the NVWA was unaware of the meat's origin.

"This is massive, 50 000 tons of meat, how many meals is that? How will all of this be traced?" Dutch news agency ANP quoted her as saying.

"Consumers need to know what they are eating," said Sjoera Dikkers of the Dutch Labour Party (PvdA) who is in a ruling coalition with Liberal Prime Minister Mark Rutte's People's Party for Freedom and Democracy (VVD).

Dutch Consumer Union spokesperson Babs van der Staac told AFP: "This shows that extra measures have to be taken, notably with better checks and better communication for consumers to know which products and supermarkets are concerned."

Selten consists of two companies: Wiljo Import and Export and Meat Wholesaler Willy Selten.

The website of Selten's wholesale meat company, based in southern city Oss, says it is "an internationally operating company, specialising in boning and cutting beef" that employs about 100 people.

It handles imports from various European countries and delivers to retailers, meat wholesalers, butchers, the meat processing industry and supermarkets throughout Europe.

The plant was probed as part of a criminal investigation by the prosecutor's office and the NVWA.

It is suspected of fraud and money laundering, the prosecutor's office said at the time.

Read more on:    netherlands  |  horsemeat scandal

Join the conversation!

24.com encourages commentary submitted via MyNews24. Contributions of 200 words or more will be considered for publication.

We reserve editorial discretion to decide what will be published.
Read our comments policy for guidelines on contributions.

24.com publishes all comments posted on articles provided that they adhere to our Comments Policy. Should you wish to report a comment for editorial review, please do so by clicking the 'Report Comment' button to the right of each comment.

Comment on this story
1 comment
Comments have been closed for this article.

Inside News24

Traffic Alerts
There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.


Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.

Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire 24.com network.


Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.

Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.