Italy latest country to find horse meat in beef

One in five beef products tested in Italy have been found to contain horse meat, officials announced today.

Of 454 beef samples tested, 93 tested positive for horse meat at more than 1 percent. The tests in Italy followed the discovery of horse and pig meat in United Kingdom (U.K.) beef products earlier this year, Reuters reports.

None of the samples containing horse meat tested positive for phenylbutazone, an anti-inflammatory drug used to treat pain in horses and is not allowed for use in animals destined for human consumption. Since increased species identification monitoring began in the U.K., only one sample has tested positive.

In the Italian case, the products originated from inside and outside of the country. Italy sent the information to the European Commission, which is expected to publish European Union-wide information on the scandal tomorrow, according to Reuters.

In January, routine testing uncovered horse and swine DNA in beef products in the U.K. The discovery was the result of a probe into meat authenticity in Ireland. Of the 27 beef burgers tested, 10 contained horse DNA and 23 contained pig DNA. Since then, the U.K.’s Food Standards Agency and industry have implemented a sweeping species identification testing program along with additional monitoring for phenylbutazone.

Since the initial reports, species identification testing has ramped up, and mislabeled meat products have been found throughout Europe.

For more on this story from Neogen’s blog, click here.

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