Russia says it may suspend EU meat imports over horse meat scandal, seeks EU guarantees

An official says Russia may suspend meat imports from European Union nations because of the horse meat scandal.

Gennady Onishchenko, Russia's chief sanitary official, said Thursday on Ekho Moskvy radio that he has sent a letter to the European Commission requesting its guarantee that meat products sold to Russia don't contain horse meat.

He added that Russia would have to temporarily suspend meat imports from EU nations, if the bloc fails to provide such assurances. He also called on Russians to choose locally produced meat.

Bulgaria on Thursday became the latest country to detect horse meat in food products labeled as beef in the widening European food scandal. Its government said that DNA tests conducted in Germany had found imported frozen dishes being sold in a supermarket chain to be as high as 80 percent horse meat.

The tests were ordered last week when suspicious frozen lasagna dishes were withdrawn from markets in Bulgaria.

The horse meat scandal began with tons of horse meat from Romanian abattoirs exported to France, where it was processed into ready-made meals. Romanian authorities said the meat was correctly labeled as horse and that the fraud occurred further down the food supply chain.

Horse meat has turned up across Europe in frozen supermarket meals and in restaurants, schools and hospitals.