The European Commission has proposed a coordinated “control plan” – including extensive testing for horse meat and contamination with bute – across all EU member states to restore consumer confidence in the European food industry.

The plan was announced by health commissioner Tonio Borg at a meeting with EU ministers on the widening horse meat scandal tonight.

It will require member states to take two measures: firstly, to test products containing beef on sale in their local markets to allow the EC to build up a picture of the true scale of horse meat adulteration across Europe; and secondly, to carry out tests for residues of the veterinary drug phenylbutazone (bute) in meat plants handling raw horse meat.

The results of those tests should be submitted back to the EC by 15 April.

The proposed control plan will be discussed further at an extraordinary meeting of the standing committee of the food chain and animal health on Friday (15 February).

Borg said it was vital that member states did all they could to restore consumer confidence. “I would urge member states to step up their investigations and circulate, without delay, any new information, so we can establish the full facts of this issue as early as possible, and thus reassure consumers,” he said.