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Around 50,000 tonnes of beef sold across Europe was recalled by the Dutch Food and Consumer Product Safety Authority (NVWA) on Wednesday on fears it might contain horse meat.
There are currently no concrete indications that there is a danger to public health. However, since the origin of the meat was not clear, the food watchdog said food safety could not be guaranteed.
"Under legislation, we were forced to mark the meat as improper for human consumption or animal feed," the NVWA stated.
The meat was supplied by two Dutch trading companies and spread over more than 130 companies in the Netherlands.
Some 370 companies from different European countries are among the customers. The NVWA informed the concerned EU member states, including Germany, France and Spain, of the recall through the Rapid Alert System for Food and Feed and asked them to inform the customers in these countries. The member states are responsible for any follow-up steps.
The names of the two Dutch meat traders are Wiljo Import and Export and Willy Selten. The latter fell into disrepute in February when it appeared that the company had mixed shredded horse and beef meat and sold it as pure beef.
The company was suspected of forgery, fraud and money laundering and the Dutch public prosecutor started a criminal investigation into the meat processor.
Since horse meat was found in meat products labeled as 100-percent beef the so-called horse meat scandal spread across Europe in February. The NVWA started a major research into the mixing of horse meat with beef in the Netherlands.