Police and UK food officials suspended production at two sites and seized paperwork

Police and UK food officials suspended production at two sites and seized paperwork

UK police have raided two meat firms as part of an investigation into how beef products containing horse meat have been sold.

The UK Food Standards Agency issued a statement yesterday evening (12 February) to say its officials and police visited one site in West Yorkshire and another in west Wales.

The FSA claims Peter Boddy Licensed Slaughterhouse supplied horse carcasses to Farmbox Meats, which is based in the Welsh town of Aberystwyth. The agency and police are investigating how meat products, said to be beef for kebabs and burgers, were sold when they were horse.

Andrew Rhodes, director of operations at the FSA, said: "I ordered an audit of all horse producing abattoirs in the UK after this issue first arose last month and I was shocked to uncover what appears to be a blatant misleading of consumers. I have suspended both plants immediately while our investigations continue."

The raids are the latest twist in a saga that started four weeks ago when beef burgers made by Irish food processor ABP Food Group at plants in Ireland and the UK were found to contain horse meat. Since then, the scandal has intensified and swept across Europe, with frozen food giant Findus and retailers in France, Germany and the Netherlands recalling products made by French firm Comigel.

The affair has rocked confidence in Europe's complex food sector. UK food manufacturers and retailers are testing beef products this week to see whether they contain horse meat, with results set to come in on Friday.

Reflecting on the raids in Yorkshire and Wales, UK Environment Secretary Owen Paterson said: "This is absolutely shocking. It’s totally unacceptable if any business in the UK is defrauding the public by passing off horsemeat as beef. I expect the full force of the law to be brought down on anyone involved in this kind of activity."

For the latest on the developing horse meat story that has shaken the European food sector, click here.