EU approves DNA tests in wake of horsemeat scandal

BRUSSELS (REUTERS/AFP) - European Union governments have approved an EU-wide programme of DNA tests on beef products to assess the scale of a food scandal involving mislabelled horsemeat, the bloc's executive said on Friday.

"I welcome the swift approval by the member states of the plan I tabled two days ago and I call on them to keep up the pressure in their efforts to identify a clear picture and a sequence of events," the bloc's health chief Tonio Borg said in a statement.

The initial one-month testing plan will also check horsemeat for potentially harmful drug residues, after six horses slaughtered in Britain tested positive for the anti-inflammatory phenylbutazone, which is illegal in meat for human consumption.

Initial results from the test are expected by mid-April.

On Friday Britain's Food Standards agency said only 29 beef products out of 2,501 tested in the country have been found to contain horsemeat.

"The overwhelming majority of beef products in this country do not contain horse. The examples we have had are totally unacceptable, but they are the exceptions," FSA chief executive Catherine Brown said.