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* Berlin, Paris have deal on compulsory label on meat dishes
* Call follows EU-wide horsemeat scandal
* Investigations into horsemeat fraud ongoing in France
By Sybille de La Hamaide and Michael Hogan
PARIS/HAMBURG, Feb 21 France and Germany will
push for compulsory labelling of the origin of meat used in
processed food in a bid to avoid a repeat of a scandal that
burst after horsemeat was found instead of beef in products
around the bloc, ministers said on Thursday.
The scandal, which has triggered recalls of ready meals and
damaged confidence in Europe's vast food industry, erupted last
month when tests carried out in Ireland revealed that some beef
products contained horsemeat.
"Germany and France are in agreement: We want origin
labelling - and as fast as possible and compulsory in all 27
countries of the EU," German farm minister Ilse Aigner said in
an advance release of an interview with German newspaper
Passauer Neuen Presse for Friday publication.
Separately, in Paris, French Agriculture Minister Stephane
Le Foll said the two countries would try to find a deal on meat
traceability at a meeting of European farm ministers next Monday
Although EU legislation imposes traceability and labelling
of the origin of meat, it does not apply to processed food.
European Union Health Commissioner Tonio Borg said last week
the Commission would speed up work on potential changes to EU
labelling rules that would require companies to state the
country of origin on processed meat products.
"The EU Commission has agreed to accelerate work so that the
main preparations for the new labelling can be completed this
year," Aigner said.
But French Consumer Minister Benoit Hamon stressed that the
battle was not an easy one.
"There is resistance. Some countries are not keen at all to
see the origin of the meat appear -- some countries like Nordic
countries -- so we will have to build a compromise," he said.
Until a compulsory EU law is put in place France called on
the industry to adopt voluntary labelling to reassure consumers
at a meeting with representatives of the meat sector at the farm
ministry on Thursday.
France is home to the main company accused of knowingly
defrauded customers and consumers by selling them horsemeat
labelled as beef, Spanghero, although the company denied any
Investigations to determine how horsemeat ended up in ready
meals sold across Europe homed in on Spanghero, but further
probes are under way in other countries and other firms in the
supply chain, including France, Hamon said.
"First results will come in soon and they could show, I'm
saying this conditionally, that there is not only one chain
concerned by this switch to horsemeat instead of beef," he said.
(Reporting by Sybille de La Hamaide in Paris and Michael Hogan
in Hamburg; editing by Keiron Henderson)