Traverse City Record-Eagle

Business

February 17, 2013

Horsemeat scandal rundown

(Continued)

Officials also said horsemeat was present in cottage pies delivered to 47 schools in Lancashire county, northern England, and in hospital meals in Northern Ireland.

Tests are continuing, and officials say this is far from over.

“The more people have looked for horsemeat, the more products have been found containing it,” said Duncan Campbell, a senior British food inspector. “I don’t think we have got to the bottom of it yet.”

How did the horsemeat get there?

European officials say the scandal is the result of fraud, and possibly an international criminal conspiracy to pass off cheap horsemeat as more expensive beef.

The French government says the chain of fraudulent meat sales reaches across 28 firms in 13 countries.

At least some of the horsemeat originated at abattoirs in Romania, and was sent through a Cyprus-registered trader to a warehouse in the Netherlands.

A French meat wholesaler, Spanghero, bought the meat from the trader, then resold it to the French frozen food processor Comigel. The resulting food was marketed in Britain and other countries under the Sweden-based Findus label as lasagna and other products containing ground beef.

French authorities blame Spanghero for the fraud, but it strongly denies wrongdoing.

“The responsibility started upstream,” chief executive Barthelemy Aguerre said Friday. “We didn’t want to cheat anyone.”

The Romanian companies and the Dutch trader also deny fraud. They say the meat was clearly labeled as horse when they handled it.

Dutch prosecutors said Friday that food safety experts raided a meat processing plant as part of a criminal investigation into horsemeat fraud.

Prosecutors said the company in North Brabant province is suspected of fraud and money laundering. The company — which was not named, in line with Dutch privacy laws — is believed to have processed horsemeat from the Netherlands and Ireland, and mixed it with beef before selling the mixture as “pure” beef.

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