BERLIN, Feb. 18 (Xinhua) -- German authorities plan to launch a national investigation on the widening scandal of horsemeat in frozen products as federal and state consumer ministers will meet on Monday to discuss the issue.
German Minister of Agriculture and Consumer Protection Ilse Aigner said the focus would be an Europe-wide screening to find out the scope of the problem.
This came one day after local media reported that some 144 tonnes of food products that might contain horsemeat could have landed on German supermarket shelves over the past three months alone.
According to the Der Spiegel magazine, at least 359,722 packages of food were imported from a Luxembourg factory involved in the horsemeat scandal and were delivered throughout Germany between November and January.
German officials have floated suggestions including the prompt introduction of rules for labeling ready-meat products and providing information about source farms on processed meat packaging.
Ilse Aigner said on local newspaper Bild am Sonntag that European Union food laws only make sense if they were observed and enforced, adding that "it will be hard for the food industry to win back the trust of consumers."
The European Commission has called on certain EU member states involved in the recent horsemeat scandal to step up investigations and restore consumers' confidence.
The scandal erupted recently across Europe after horsemeat was found in such food products as burgers and lasagna while being fraudulently labeled as beef.
So far, companies and slaughterhouses in a number of European countries have been dragged into the scandal, including France, the Netherlands, Switzerland, Germany, Luxembourg, Bulgaria and Norway, media reports said.
According to EU legislation, horsemeat can be used for meat products, on the condition that it has to be declared on the label, in addition to the fact that member states should be responsible for the proper enforcement of EU rules.