Thousands of tests across the European Union revealed that nearly 5% of foods marketed as beef contained horse meat, according to results released Tuesday.
However, European officials said health risks from the mislabeled meat were minor. A much smaller fraction of the horse meat run through separate tests -- 0.5% -- contained a veterinary drug banned for humans to eat, the tests found. A day earlier, European food safety officials estimated that the risk of suffering toxic effects from accidentally ingesting horse meat was lower than 1 in 100 million.
"Today's findings have confirmed that this is a matter of food fraud and not of food safety," EU Health Commissioner Tonio Berg said in a statement Tuesday, pledging to tighten controls along the food chain.