Portugal seizes 79 tons of processed foods containing traces of horse meat
Portugal's Food Safety Authority (ASAE) opened criminal proceedings against five Portuguese companies Tuesday for fraud on supermarket
products and seized 79,000 kg meat containing traces of horse meat.
In a statement released Tuesday evening, the Food Safety Authority stated that "Seizures were made in industrial preparation, packaging and
distribution of meat in supermarkets."
The agency announced it had seized some 18,839 packages of meat products, such as lasagne, burgers, cannelloni and meatballs and said they had collected and analyzed 134 samples, of which 13 contained DNA traces of horse meat.
As five criminal proceedings were instituted against companies, the ASAE stressed that there is "no public health hazard."
Antonio Nunes, inspector general of the ASAE, told Xinhua that "Some 13 of 134 samples collected tested positive for the presence of horse meat in processed meat," confirming that "79,000 kg of Portuguese frozen processed meat plus 18,839 food packages of international origin have been withdrawn from the market."
"The five arrests were made in industrial preparation, packaging and distribution of meat in retail trade and trade and retail distribution,"
said the statement posted on the ASAE website.
"We have a situation where there is no danger to public health, but fraud on merchandise associated with a crime that can lead to up to a year in prison," said Nunes. The judicial processes are now in the hands of the prosecutors.
According to the inspector general, it is not known if the horse meat is from Portugal or may come from other European countries, "usually via Spain." The analysis detect only the horse DNA.
"The monitoring will continue until we have the absolute guarantee that we can eradicate from the domestic market any products that may have the wrong information to consumers," said Nunes. Lisbon (Xinhua)