Authorities Begin Investigation into if Romanian Horse Meat

An Expert's View about Food , Beverages and Tobacco in Romania

Posted on: 18 Feb 2013

Lasagna products sold in France contained horsemeat that may have originated from Romania and any of the country’s 35 slaughterhouses officially registered to process horses.

THIS REPORT CONTAINS ASSESSMENTS OF COMMODITY AND TRADE ISSUES MADE BY USDA STAFF AND NOT NECESSARILY STATEMENTS OF OFFICIAL U.S. GOVERNMENT POLICY Voluntary Public - Date: 2/12/2013 GAIN Report Number: RO1305 Romania Post: Bucharest Authorities Begin Investigation into if Romanian Horse Meat Mislabeled Report Categories: Agriculture in the News Approved By: Michael Henney, Agricultural Attaché Prepared By: Ioana Stoenescu, Agricultural Marketing Specialist Report Highlights: Lasagna products sold in France contained horsemeat that may have originated from Romania and any of the country’s 35 slaughterhouses officially registered to process horses. Trade data show only two of the Romanian slaughterhouses engaged in trade of horse meat to other member states in the recent period. An investigation is underway to determine if all facilities properly documented and labeled products moved into commercial channels. General Information: On February 8th, the European Commission notified through the Rapid Alert System all member states on the recent non-conformity issue revealed at lasagna product containing horse meat instead of beef. Presently, there are 35 slaughterhouses in Romania which are authorized by the National Sanitary Veterinary and Food Safety Authority to slaughter horses, and they are registered in Prahova, Botoşani, Argeş, and Călăraşi counties. Despite the fact that all 35 hold this authorization, horse slaughtering is an occasional request. According to Romanian Ministry of Agriculture, there are two Romanian slaughterhouses which delivered horse meat to other member states in the recent period. The same authority confirms that one of them is excluded because they exported to the EU market only horse meat, and there could not have been any possibility to wrongly label it as beef meat. According to local media, meat exports from Romania reached France through more trading companies. A Dutch trader purchased and delivered the Romanian meat to a Cyprus trader, which sold it to the French company Maison Spanghero. The French buyer confirmed buying the Romanian beef meat and reselling it to Comigel company in their Luxemburg branch, processed it and produced the lasagna products sold in the international food chain Findus. Following the horse meat detection on Feb. 8th, the packages were withdrawn from French and Swedish markets. Horse meat is traded within the EU without passing border control. The shipment must have a veterinary mark provided by the state-official veterinarian, who is the official state inspector of the slaughterhouse. In addition, the shipment must be accompanied by a series of commercial and traceability documents. Romanian Meat Associations representatives declare that all meat exported from Romania was properly labeled and differences between the two types of meat are visible for processors. Trade data indicate that Romania exported around 5,000 tons of horse meat valued at USD 14 millions to the EU countries during the first ten months of 2012. According to EUROSTAT data, the main export destinations for the Romanian horse meat were Belgium, Bulgaria, Italy, Poland, and the Netherlands. Romania Export Statistics Commodity: 0205, Meat Of Horses, Asses, Mules Or Hinnies, Fresh, Chilled Or Frozen Year To Date: January – October 2010 2011 2012 Partner Country Unit USD Quantity USD Quantity USD Quantity World T 10918300 3999 14038295 4715 14179848 4993 Belgium T 5695091 1478 5400001 1079 5096387 1083 Bulgaria T 249202 170 3090506 1524 3840948 1812 Italy T 4564236 2138 3762315 1498 2304544 938 Poland T 0 0 88093 18 1759709 746 Netherlands T 211760 107 1273646 440 910362 316 Germany T 0 0 55150 21 159088 59 Greece T 68 0 13933 4 49432 16 Hungary T 34006 25 55323 26 38700 17 Austria T 0 0 0 0 20678 6 Ireland T 92636 42 0 0 0 0 Czech Republic T 65556 30 127969 44 0 0 France T 5745 9 171360 62 0 0 Source of Data: Eurostat Referring to the numerical evolution of horses, the Romanian Ministry of Agriculture declares that horse livestock slightly decreased in 2012 compared with the previous year. The same source specifies that during the first nine month of 2012 Romania had less than 600,000 horses registered. The Romanian Ministry of Agriculture and the National Sanitary-Veterinary and Food Safety Authority are working to establish if the raw horse meat was exported by a Romanian trader and if the company fulfilled all the legal requirements when performing the export.
Posted: 18 February 2013

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