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Europe's horsemeat scandal 'not a food safety issue': Brussels

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Europe's horsemeat scandal 'not a food safety issue': Brussels

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(BRUSSELS) - The European Commission said Monday that Europe's horsemeat scandal appeared at this stage to be a labelling problem and definitely not a question of food safety.

"We're not talking about a food safety issue," Commission spokesman Frederic Vincent said on being queried at a news conference on the possibility of a British ban on EU meat exports.

"Nobody got sick as far as I know. It's just a labelling issue. So at this stage a ban on anything would not be appropriate."

Vincent, the spokesman for the EU's health commissioner Tonio Borg, said however that no member state could unilaterally decide to suspend food imports.

At this stage, European Union nations caught up in the scandal were "in a fact-finding situation" trying to determine who had done what and since when, he stressed.

The Commission itself could only legally take action if there was proof of a health issue, he added.

Countries involved were working through the bloc's Rapid Alert System for Food and Feed (RASFF), an EU-run information exchange system that served as a traceability system, Vincent added.

France and Britain called earlier Monday for the "criminals" who disguised horsemeat as beef to be tracked down, as Romania angrily denied it was to blame for the frozen food scandal spreading across Europe.

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