|French firm blamed for horsemeat scandal
France has pinned much of the blame for Europe's horse scandal on a French firm that allegedly sold 750 tonnes of horsemeat as beef that ended up in millions of ready-to-eat meals sold across the continent.
The move came Thursday as police in Britain arrested three men suspected of passing horse off as beef, and as Germany joined the ranks of countries where frozen "beef'' lasagne was found to contain horsemeat, AFP reports.
The Dutch government's food and consumer watchdog has also searched and carried out tests for horsemeat at around 100 businesses, as Europe's tainted beef scandal deepens.
In a sign of the damage the scandal has done to consumer confidence, 11 major food retailers and suppliers issued a public letter in Britain on Friday saying they shared people's "anger and outrage'' and were "working around the clock'' to identify what has gone wrong.
Evidence of horsemeat has until now been confined to frozen products, but Asda supermarket in Britain announced Thursday it had pulled a fresh beef bolognese sauce from the shelves after tests revealed it contained horse DNA.
The scandal has left governments scrambling to figure out how the mislabelling of the meat started in the sprawling chain of production spanning abattoirs and meat suppliers in countries across Europe.
The French government threw some light on that question when it presented the results of an investigation that pinned much of the blame on Spanghero, a meat-processing firm in the southwestern town of Castelnaudary.
The findings by the DGCCRF anti-fraud office, presented by Consumer Affairs Minister Benoit Hamon, are staggering.
It said Spanghero had knowingly sold 750 tonnes of horsemeat mis-labelled as beef over a period of six months, 500 tonnes of which were sent to French firm Comigel, which makes frozen meals at its Tavola factory in Luxembourg.
That meat was used to make 4.5 million products that were sold by Comigel to 28 different companies in 13 European countries, it said.
Hamon said Spanghero would be prosecuted and officials said its licence to handle meat would be suspended pending further investigations.