QUESTIONS are being asked about whether any of the horse meat exported to Europe has been mislabelled as beef after arriving.
Europe has been gripped by a scandal in which horse meat has been mislabelled as beef, and Australia is one of the world's largest horse meat exporters, shipping it fresh, frozen and chilled to France, Belgium, Russia and Switzerland.
The Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry said it was responsible for ensuring the exports were correctly identified and certified, the Herald Sun reports.
But regulation after the meat arrives is the importing country's responsibility.
"DAFF, therefore, does not monitor the use of meat products after arrival. DAFF is monitoring the situation and if requested, will co-operate fully with EU authorities to assist this investigation," a spokesman said.
In the past year Victoria exported 19 tonnes of horse flesh.
The two major companies that specialise in exporting horse meat - Samex (formerly Metro Velda) in South Australia and Meramist in Queensland - declined to comment on whether they had made checks with European clients.
Independent senator Nick Xenophon, who campaigned for better food labelling laws, said exporters were reputable and doing the right thing, but authorities should pursue European regulators.
"They should be seeking answers to protect the Australian brand," Senator Xenophon said.
Industry reports indicate about 40,000 horses are processed for export.
Up to 20 per cent are feral horses from the north, and thousands of others are retired racehorses. Exports also include pets, asses, mules and hinnies, all for both human and pet consumption.
Government data shows horse meat exports last year were worth $8.57m.
Horse meat has been found in some UK kebabs and burgers, and in frozen lasagne in both Britain and France.
Germany, Switzerland, Holland and Norway have all acted over suspected horse meat in products.
EU ministers have promised DNA food testing in an effort to restore consumer confidence.
Read more at the Herald Sun.