Dutch order recall of improperly labelled French horsemeat

AMSTERDAM (REUTERS) - Dutch food safety authorities ordered five Dutch companies to recall 11,000kg of improperly labelled French horsemeat that was turned into food products in the Netherlands, the Economic Affairs Ministry said in letter published on Tuesday.

However, the ministry said the food had been delivered via Belgium to the Netherlands between January and October last year and had probably been consumed. The meat was improperly labelled as beef and was not fit for human consumption, it said in the letter to parliament.

The recall in the Netherlands follows the arrest last month of 21 cattle traders, butchers and veterinarians in France on suspicion of illegally selling 200 horses from the sports and pharmaceutical industry.

The horsemeat trading scandal first broke last January when horse DNA was found in frozen burgers sold in Irish and British supermarkets, and involved traders and abattoirs from Romania to the Netherlands.

The Dutch said the decision on the latest recall was taken in late December after a notification was received from the European Union Commission Rapid Alert System for Food and Feed.

There was no explanation of the gap between notification and recall, but the Dutch parliament was in recess in late December.

The Dutch food safety board was attempting to trace the meat "and has contacted the companies involved and requested that they pull the meat from the market", it said.

"They will request that their clients pull the products from the stores if that is possible."

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