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Horse meat substitution in Europe

(February 2013)

What is happening in Europe?

Horse meat has been discovered in a range of beef products in Europe. The United Kingdom Food Standards Agency (UKFSA) is releasing regular updates on the issue.

Read updates from the UKFSA

How is meat regulated in Australia?

The Food Standards Code has compositional, labelling and processing requirements for meat. Food labelling laws require food to be truthfully labelled. For example, if a product is labelled as ‘Beef Lasagne’ then it must contain beef.

States and territories also have meat processing legislation in place that, in part, incorporates requirements of the relevant Australian Standards.

Could meat be substituted for other meat in Australia?

Due to the regulations in place, and measures implemented by industry, it appears unlikely meat substitution is occurring in Australia. However, the Australian and state and territory governments are continuing to monitor this issue and liaise with industry and international food enforcement agencies to ensure there is no horse meat substitution occurring here.

What about products coming into Australia?

FSANZ has been advised that, to date, there is no indication affected products in Europe have been exported to Australia or that horse meat has been sold as beef in Australia.

Australia does not import hamburger patties from the UK or Ireland and we don’t import lasagne-style meals from France (or other European Union countries).

Beef and beef products can only be imported into Australia from a small number of countries and require strict government certification and endorsement, including details of the country of origin of the beef.

FSANZ and the Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry are continuing to monitor the situation to determine whether further action is warranted.

More information

Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry - Questions and answers on horse meat in Australia

NSW Food Authority - EU horse meat substitution

New Zealand Ministry for Primary Indsutries - horse meat facts (pdf 287 kb)

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