Food testing firms poised to benefit from horsemeat fallout

Wed Feb 13, 2013 4:25am EST
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By Christine Murray

LONDON (Reuters) - Companies that specialize in testing food ingredients stand to gain from increased scrutiny of meat products in the wake of the horsemeat scandal that has spread across Europe since the beginning of the year.

French-listed Eurofins EUFI.PA, the largest food testing specialist in Europe, and British firm Intertek (ITRK.L: Quote) both said they had already seen a pick-up in demand.

Customers that routinely send samples to check on the type of meat in products don't seem to be affected, said Bert Popping, director of scientific development at Eurofins. "But we're seeing more samples coming now from companies that have not previously tested those parameters."

Eurofins did the tests which helped to confirm the presence of horse in Irish-produced burgers that sparked the scandal.

The discovery of horsemeat in imported beef products in Britain, blamed by government ministers on "an international criminal conspiracy," has prompted investigations into products and suppliers and calls for tighter regulation.

British and European Union officials will meet in Brussels on Wednesday to decide how to deal with the situation involving several countries in a complex supply chain across the continent.

British Environment Secretary Owen Paterson held meetings on Tuesday with the British Institute of Grocery Distributors to discuss standards for the regular testing of meat products by retailers and what will happen in future.

Any new regulation or tougher enforcement of existing European rules would be a boon to the highly-specialized food testing sector.   Continued...

Metal horse heads outlined with neon lights are seen above a horsemeat butcher shop in Paris in this February 11, 2013 file picture. REUTERS/Charles Platiau/Files