April 5, 2013

1 Min Read
USDA Guards Imports from Concerns Raised in Horse Meat Scandal

WASHINGTONThe U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) is not taking any chances, however remote, that Americans will inadvertently eat contaminated horse meat from Europe.

USDA has ordered inspectors to increase testing on all meat imports from Ireland, Poland and the United Kingdom, The Wall Street Journal reported Monday, even though government officials previously noted the U.S. doesn't import beef from countries that found horse meat in beef products.

Inspectors also have been instructed to begin performing "species" testing on some beef-product imports, regardless of where the food comes from, the Journal wrote.

"We are confident that the inspection system at ports of entry ensures the safety of products that come into our country," Cathy Cochran, a spokeswoman for USDA's Food Safety and Inspection Service, said in an emailed statement to Bloomberg. "However, in response to recent events and consumer concerns, we are increasing species testing to enhance current safeguards and prevent fraudulently labeled products from entering the country."

European law enforcement authorities and regulators have been investigating food suppliers, grocery stores and other companies following revelations that horse meat was detected.

Earlier this year, Owen Paterson, a UK official, revealed the country's Food Safety Agency was leading the probes in collaboration with other European countries and the police.

Officials in Europe have said they are unaware that the horse meat poses health risks to consumers.

"Polish Minister of Agriculture has emphasized publicly that although responsibility for adulterating food falls on the producers and processors, there is no threat to health or life of consumers, because horse meat is a high-quality meat," USDA's Foreign Agricultural Service stated last month in a report.

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