EUROPE: Horse meat: Romania "source" for Findus contamination

By Dean Best | 11 February 2013

Paris said further investigations would determine if trade in horse meat was fraudulent

Paris said further investigations would determine if trade in horse meat was fraudulent

An abbatoir in Romania is alleged to be the source of the horse meat contained in Findus products that have sparked the crisis that has rocked Europe's food industry.

Initial investigations by the French government have linked the contamination to an unnamed company in Romania, via traders in Cyprus and the Netherlands, a meat processor in France and a lasagne producer in the country to frozen food giant Findus.

French government minister Benoit Hamon yesterday (10 February) outlined what Paris believes was the supply chain for the horse meat.

Hamon said the product originated from a cutting plant in Romania. A trader in the Netherlands, which was sub-contracted by a trader in Cyprus, sold the horse meat to French firm Poujol, which then supplied it to Findus lasagne supplier Comigel, Hamon explained.

Findus lasagnes and other lines made at Comigel have been recalled in France, Sweden and the UK.

Yesterday, major retail chains in France, including Carrefour and Casino, recalled Findus and Comigel products.

Hamon said the investigation was continuing to find out where in France and in Europe Comigel products ended up.

The minister also said the French government would look into whether there was "negligence" or whether there was fraud involved.

Later today, French government ministers will meet industry officials for talks on the situation.

In the UK, where the scandal has dominated national news bulletins, industry and government officials met on Saturday to discuss the crisis.

The food industry will this week test beef products for horse meat, with the results set for publication on Friday.

After the meeting, the UK's Food Standards Agency said: "It has also been agreed that initial tests will focus on the areas of most concern, but that all products will be tested as part of the programme and all results reported.

"Defra [The Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs] and the FSA have demanded more authenticity tests on all beef products, such as beefburgers, meatballs and lasagne, and for industry to provide the results to the FSA.

"The FSA remains the lead investigating authority and there is currently no police investigation. However, the FSA and police are working closely and the police will be involved if the evidence suggests a level of criminality within the UK that the police should deal with. The most recent information regarding Aldi and Findus does suggest gross negligence or possibly criminality, and we are working closely with the French authorities as part of the investigation. Europol are also aware of our investigations."

At the meeting, the FSA and the industry agreed on a programme of regular testing. They will meet again today to finalise these plans.

Sectors: Food safety, Frozen, Meat & poultry, Private label, Retail

Companies: Findus, Carrefour, Casino, Aldi

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