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EU Approves DNA Testing to Fight Horsemeat Scandal

The European Union has approved a plan to carry out DNA tests on beef products in the wake of a food scandal involving horsemeat tainted products.

In a statement Friday, the EU's health chief called on member states to "keep up the pressure" to identify a clear sequence of the scandal's events. Many meat products have been withdrawn from supermarket freezers, initially in Britain and Ireland, but also in other countries, including Sweden and Germany.

The statement said the testing will last for at least one month. The tests will check for the presence of unlabeled horsemeat and for residues of the anti-inflammatory drug phenylbutazone which is illegal in meat for human consumption.

On Thursday, the British Food Standards Agency said eight of 206 horses it checked had tested positive for phenylbutazone, commonly known as bute. It said six of the eight, all processed by a southwest English slaughterhouse, were sent to France and "may have entered the food chain."



The agency said it was working with French authorities to trace the meat.

Britain's chief medical officer said Thursday that the scant levels of the drug found in horsemeat "present a very low risk to human health." She said bute is a commonly used medicine in horses and is also occasionally prescribed to patients suffering from severe arthritis, with serious side effects in rare cases.

In Paris, senior French government officials said an inquiry had revealed the French meat-processing company Spanghero knowingly sold horsemeat as beef. Agriculture Minister Stephane Le Foll said the government may withdraw the firm's operating license.

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