At least 359,722 packages of food were imported from the Luxembourg factory implicated in the Europe-wide horse meat scandal to Germany between November and January Der Spiegel reported on Sunday. That means a potential 144 tonnes of products containing horse meat could have landed on store shelves.
The majority of the products had been in cold storage in the town of Neuss in North Rhine-Westphalia before being delivered throughout the country. Consumer protection advocates are calling for more controls.
“The European Union has strong food laws. But rules only make sense if they're observed and enforced,” German Minister of Agriculture and Consumer Protection Ilse Aigner wrote in a guest column for Bild am Sonntag.
Anita Tack, environment minister for the state of Brandenburg, said rules for labelling ready-meat products should be introduced promptly. Green Party parliamentary group chairwoman Renate Künast spoke out in favour of including information about source farms on processed meat packaging.
Federal and state consumer ministers will meet on Monday to discuss the consequences of the horse meat scandal.
According to Der Spiegel reports, previous efforts to introduce labelling on processed products were hampered by opposition from countries including Germany. “Back then we called for more far-reaching regulation but these were rejected in particular by liberal as well as conservative German representatives,” Green Party MEP Martin Häusling told the magazine.
“It will be hard for the food industry to win back the trust of consumers,” Aigner wrote, adding that food “must contain what it says it does.”
Supermarket chain Rewe announced on Sunday that it was taking two frozen food products suspected of containing horse meat off its shelves. It follows similar action from several other major German chains.
The horse meat scandal has affected companies and consumers throughout Europe. Producers, suppliers and distributors of convenience food are being investigated.