France says it has a better way to regulate the horsemeat market

There’s a new dispute emerging between British horsemeat advocates and their French counterparts following the latest horsemeat controversy.

The Guardian reported Wednesday that the French City of Toulouse is claiming it has a better approach to preventing the spread of horsemeat contamination than British authorities. In a press conference on Tuesday, senior members of the city’s health department urged the French government to provide more support in tracking down horses in cases of food contamination and lost animals.

“It’s the worst kind of fraud, and it seems to me that there is not only a big need, but also a great opportunity for the European Union to work in coordination to fight this problem,” said Said-Jean Ghazi, the chief scientific officer for the city of Toulouse. “It is time for us in Europe to re-establish a common front. That’s why we are taking the initiative on this issue.”

Toulouse, a major French horsemeat exporter, blames trade agreements with Britain as one of the reasons for its failure to detect deadly horse and pig flu outbreaks among the thousands of horses it ships back and forth to Britain each year. The 2012 E. coli outbreak among British horses spread to France and prompted the country to legislate stricter controls.

France’s animal health commissioner Anne Stogner on Wednesday said the city of Toulouse has never shown the ability to quickly detect horse slaughter-related illnesses.

“The city of Toulouse’s claim that it “never had the capacity to promptly identify a problem in the horse carcasses from its agricultural border with Britain is confirmed by the facts of the 2012 E.coli outbreak,” she told RTL radio. “The city of Toulouse, like every other French city that exported horses to the U.K., was fed [it] on a daily basis.”

Stogner also cited a 2014 scandal in which hundreds of puppies were resold to unsuspecting customers as evidence that France is not doing enough to protect the health of people and animals.

British authorities have already tried to convince British consumers that the U.K. is a safe place to shop for horsemeat. Last fall, the government reiterated plans to issue warnings about the risk to public health and demand that supermarkets and other food companies label any meat found to contain horse to differentiate it from beef.

Both sides of the story have heated up in the U.K. in recent months. Over the Christmas period, its neighbor to the west and continental Europe, Belgium, was the focus of accusations when cases of horse, pig, and meat testing positive for rabies emerged.

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