A comprehensive round of testing of beef products across Europe has revealed 0.61 percent contained horse-meat DNA.
The testing returned 16 positive traces among 2622 tests carried out by authorities in 28 European Union countries.
The European Commission described the results of the testing as encouraging, following last year’s horse-meat contamination crisis, in which millions of ready-made beef meals were pulled from supermarket freezers.
The case highlighted the complexity of the food chain across the continent and its vulnerability to rogue traders.
The commission said the latest test results indicated measures to fight food fraud were working
The round of testing was launched in April this year. It was a follow-up to the exercise carried out in 2013 after the horse meat crisis broke, in which 4.6 percent of products tested positive.
EU Commissioner for Health Tonio Borg said the findings confirmed that efforts were bearing fruit and that increased controls to uncover food fraud were having real impact.
“Restoring the trust and confidence of European consumers and businesses in our food chain is vital for our economy given that the food sector is one of the EU’s largest economic sectors.
“I believe that this on-going work will continue to pay dividends. Fraudulent practices must be tackled through joined-up efforts to target the weakest links in the food supply chain.”
Testing ranged between 10-150 samples per country, depending on the size of the nation. Some EU countries exceeded the number of tests recommended by the commission.
The commission said all 16 cases were being followed up by the competent authorities in the member-states concerned, with appropriate enforcement measures and penalties.
Evidence gathered during the horse-meat scandal did not point to a food safety or public health issue, but rather an issue of fraudulent labelling motivated by the prospect of profit.
It demonstrated that fraudsters were taking advantage of weaknesses in the system to the detriment of both legitimate businesses and consumers.