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Originally published Wednesday, April 10, 2013 at 11:12 PM

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Horse-meat scandal resurfaces in Europe

The Dutch food-safety authority said it was trying to trace meat sold to 130 companies in the Netherlands and 370 in 15 other countries, including France, Germany and Spain.

The New York Times

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LONDON — After disappearing briefly from public view, the scandal over horse meat sold as beef re-emerged Wednesday with an alert about 50,000 tons of meat sold across Europe and an earlier recall of a product in Britain containing a veterinary drug banned from the human food chain.

The Dutch food-safety authority said it was trying to trace meat sold to 130 companies in the Netherlands and 370 in 15 other countries, including France, Germany and Spain. The Dutch suppliers of the meat, in which traces of horse meat were discovered, were unable to say where the 50,000 tons in question originated, said Tjitte Mastenbroek, a spokesman for the Netherlands Food and Consumer Product Safety Authority.

“There is no specific indication that this is a danger to the public,” Mastenbroek said, “but the company cannot give the origin of the meat, so we cannot give a guarantee.”

The food-safety authorities in the 15 countries have been notified about the concerns, and the Dutch companies that bought the meat will be asked to remove it from sale if it can be traced. The two Dutch meat suppliers were named as Wiljo Import en Export B.V. and Vleesgroothandel Willy Selten B.V.

Late Tuesday in Britain, the Asda chain, which is owned by Wal-Mart, announced a recall of Smart Price Corned Beef. The product was withdrawn from shelves in March after it was found to contain traces of horse meat, and further tests showed that the banned drug, known as bute, had been detected in small doses, the company said.

The announcement is a new development in the scandal over horse meat in beef products, ranging from frozen lasagna to Ikea’s Swedish meatballs. Until Tuesday, there had been no suggestion that any item sold in Britain posed a health risk.

Eight horses slaughtered in Britain for human consumption tested positive for bute, and although some of that meat was exported to France, none was used in British food, according to authorities.

Tests to detect bute take longer than those for horse DNA, which is why the Asda product was withdrawn from shelves last month, before the discovery of traces of bute that prompted the recall.

A second Asda corned-beef product that also contained horse-meat traces and had been taken off supermarket shelves is also being recalled as a precaution, although no bute has been discovered, the company said.

The British food industry has tested about 5,400 beef products, and about 1 percent showed traces of horse meat.

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