As the EU launches plans for immediate DNA tests of beef products for the presence of unlabelled horse meat, more European countries have reported traces.
In Britain it has been revealed that three more sites have been raided. Earlier, nationwide tests found horse meat in just over 1 per cent of samples.
The scandal initally focused on a handful of countries after the discovery of horse meat in Irish burgers.
Now investigations in several more European countries have found it in what are described as beef products.
Authorities in Austria said horse meat had been detected in tortellini dishes made in Germany. In Norway lasagna products were withdrawn from supermarket shelves after testing positive.
In Denmark an abattoir is under investigation, suspected of supplying horse labelled as beef to pizza manufacturers. A factory in the Netherlands was raided on Friday; prosecutors allege it has mixed horse meat with beef before selling products as “pure beef”.
At least two UK supermarkets have sought to reassure consumers; the British National Farmers Union has taken out newspaper ads urging people to “buy British”.
Hospitals in Britain are to assess all their meat suppliers to trace the sources; pies have been withdrawn from dozens of school kitchens in Lancashire after testing positive for horse meat.
Across Europe more than 2000 tests are now planned. Between 10 and 150 tests are envisaged in each of the EU’s 27 member states.
The authorities continue seeking to reassure consumers there’s no risk to human health. But for millions of people issues of transparency, what goes into the food chain and the effectiveness of controls are equally important.