Three men have been arrested in the UK on suspicion of offences under the Fraud Act by police investigating allegations horsemeat was mislabelled as beef.

Dyfed-Powys Police in Wales yesterday (14 February) made arrests at two plants that were raided earlier this week: Farmbox Meats in Aberystywth, west Wales and the Peter Boddy Slaughterhouse Yorkshire.

The FSA had claimed earlier this week that Peter Boddy Licensed Slaughterhouse supplied horse carcasses to Farmbox Meats. The agency and police were investigating how meat products, said to be beef for kebabs and burgers, were sold when they were horse.

In a statement today, the FSA said police had arrested two men aged 64 years and 42 years from Farmbox, and a man aged 63 years at the Peter Boddy Slaughterhouse.

“Approvals for both plants were suspended yesterday by the FSA, so neither firm was operational,” the FSA said.

The three men are being detained at Aberystwyth Police Station where they will be interviewed jointly by police and FSA staff in what has this afternoon become a joint operation, the agency said.

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Both firms have denied any wrongdoing.

The director of Farmbox Meats, Dafydd Raw-Rees, this week told the BBC he thought the FSA was “picking on him”.

He said: “The horsemeat is delivered [to me] from Ireland, cut up and taken from here to Belgium and I get paid for doing the cutting up, there is no further processing. This is not a processing plant, this is purely production.

“The FSA are being untruthful. They have been informed, there is a complete paper trail so they have known about it and to pick on me now doesn’t make sense in any way, shape or form, I can’t work it out.”

The arrests 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 today.