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The head of a British parliamentary commission on the food industry has called for all meat imports from the European Union to be suspended while investigations continue into the horsemeat scandal.

Anne McIntosh, chairwoman of the House of Commons food and rural affairs committee and a member of the governing Conservative Party, advised people to buy fresh meat locally.

The government has rejected a temporary ban, saying it would be against EU rules.

The Romanian food industry has repudiated French claims that horsemeat found in beef products came from its abattoirs.

But the government in Bucharest is more cautious and is investigating. Agriculture Minister Daniel Constantin said: “I asked for a report (on the possible export of horsemeat) and I don’t want to comment before the head of the Sanitary-Veterinary Authority presents it to me. I hope to identify exporters as soon as possible. In the end it is a matter of product control here, before they left for other EU markets.”

The minister said French authorities had cast suspicion on two Romanian abattoirs. France, Britain and Ireland are investigating discoveries of horsemeat in meat products.

In the UK Findus has said it believes the contamination in beef lasagne was deliberate.

The authorities say there is no threat to health. But the scandal has revealed a complicated pan-European chain of meat suppliers and traders, raising questions about quality control.

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