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AgriMin Constantin: Scandals like the horsemeat scandal should be very carefully analysed

Agriculture Minister Daniel Constantin on Friday said scandals like the one that involved a possible delivery of canned horsemeat instead of canned beef to the UK should be very carefully analysed given that Romania is very easily given a wag of the finger.

'I am calling on the media and all those who are quick to point a finger at Romania to first of all analyse things very carefully. I have always said that if the culprit is in Romania he or she has to be penalised and forbidden from getting to the European Union's market. We will take all the necessary measures, yet it seems to me that Romania gets very quick pointed at and negatively covered in the media. I watched all the UK channels last night after in Romania there was a breaking news story that horsemeat again from Romania was labelled and traded as beef. I could not see any breaking news there about this matter,' Constantin told a conference on Friday called 'There is a future for Romania's countryside,' held at the Indagra agriculture and food trade fair.

He explained that if things prove true, it will be a serious case and action will be taken consequently.

'We are already conducting all the necessary analyses. Samples of the January batch that seemed to have been contaminated are kept with the exporter. All necessary analyses are being now run on those samples. From what the veterinarians told me, there does not seem to be traces of horsemeat in excess of what is legally allowed,' said Constantin.

He also said that in the case of the chicken meat scandal, if things do not get clear quick consequences will be huge, which would be a pitty.

'This is a sector that fares very well, with Romanian products being in high esteem on the European market. Last year Romanian exports of such products to the European market were worth 250 million euros. I would be highly cautious. Veterinary checks in Romania are very rigorous. Third merits are recognised in the unblocking of markets in China and probably in Turkey in the days ahead, and pork on the European market. The pork was the problem because Romania has been blocked off the market because of the swine pest outbreak since January 1, 2007. I hope we will defuse the situation in some days. These are the merits of the veterinarians,' said Constantin.

A batch of canned sliced beef that was found to contain horse DNA has been withdrawn from sale at two chains in the UK.
The Food Standards Agency (FSA) said the product was manufactured in Romania in January 2013 and supplied to Home Bargains (TJ Morris Ltd) and Quality Save stores in the UK, according to Sky News.

Its statement confirmed the 320g packs were described on the label as ‘Food Hall Sliced Beef in Rich Gravy' and contained between 1 per cent and 5 per cent horse DNA.

On the other hand, this week in Romania 7,352 kg and 6,200 kg of fowl meat was withdrawn from sale in Bucharest and Brasov, respectively, amidst suspicions of the meat having been contaminated with salmonella.

Chairman of Romania's National Animal Health and Food Safety Authority (ANSVSA) Vladimir Mansatitreanu told a press conference on October 30 that the Romanian animal health authorities had no information that the fowl meat delivered by Avicola Calarasi was infested with salmonella.

Previously, retail trader Selgros had announced having withdrawn from its stores all products delivered by Avicola Calarasi because of faulty aspect and quality and decided to halt any future deliveries pending clarifications.