Wednesday, February 21, 2018

Fuad: Enforce import rules to block horse meat


MEAT SCANDAL BREWING: A farmer presents his horse at the annual horse market in Skaryszew, yesterday. The horse market in Skaryszew is the biggest and the oldest one in Poland, it has taken place every year continuously since 1432. Last year it created controversy because of bad animal treatment. —Photo: AFP

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TAINTED horse meat could be entering this country through Chinese products without proper labelling, Health Minister Dr Fuad Khan said yesterday.

Europe has been rocked recently with the discovery of horse meat in products sold as beef.

The horse meat scandal first began in Ireland last month when traces of horse deoxyribonucleic acid (DNA) were found in some beef products.

The issue has since spread across Europe and has led to meat being pulled from supermarket shelves.

Concerns about food labelling have also been raised as a result of the ongoing situation.

European governments have stressed that horse meat poses little or no health risk, although some carcasses have been found tainted with a pain-killer given to racehorses but banned for human consumption.

This is where the problem may reach local shores, Khan has said.

The Minister said the issue of food products being sold in local supermarkets, with only labelling written in Chinese, is currently engaging the attention of local authorities.

The Chemistry, Food and Drug Division has launched an investigation into the matter, he said.

Khan said food products entering the country must be tested while passing through Customs and Excise, however, somehow this procedure is being circumvented.

"Usually the Food and Drug department takes that information and looks at all the meat items and food items that enter the country, but unfortunately what has been occurring, and it has been brought to my attention, that a lot of items have been bypassing the regular process and going straight into certain supermarkets and one wonders exactly how they are coming in because they have to pass through Customs and Excise," Khan said.

"If you look at the Chinese supermarkets, a lot of goods with Chinese writing and no English writing seem to get through quite easily."

Khan said discussions were currently taking place with Trade Minister Vasant Bharath to determine how to plug the loophole.

Khan said as a result of this breach tainted horse meat may be entering the country.