TribLIVE

| USWorld


 
Larger text Larger text Smaller text Smaller text | Order Photo Reprints

France hunting fraudsters in horsemeat scandal

About The Tribune-Review
The Tribune-Review can be reached via e-mail or at 412-321-6460.
Contact Us | Video | Photo Reprints

Daily Photo Galleries


By The Associated Press

Published: Sunday, Feb. 10, 2013, 8:54 p.m.

PARIS — Europe's horsemeat scandal is spreading and threatening cross-border tensions, as France says Romanian butchers and Dutch and Cypriot traders were part of a supply chain that resulted in horsemeat disguised as beef being sold in frozen lasagna around the continent.

No one has reported health risks from the mislabeled meat, but it has unsettled consumers across Europe.

Accusations are flying. In France, the foreign minister called it “disgusting,” and consumer safety authorities increased inspections of the country's meat business, from slaughterhouses to supermarkets. Romania's president is scrambling to salvage his country's reputation. A Swedish manufacturer is suing a French supplier central to the affair.

The motivation for passing off horsemeat as beef appeared to be financial, and authorities are concentrating on pursuing anyone guilty of fraud in the affair, said France's junior minister for consumer goods, Benoit Hamon.

The complex supply chain for the suspicious meat crossed Europe's map.

An initial investigation by French safety authorities determined that French company Poujol bought frozen meat from a Cypriot trader, Hamon's office said in a statement Sunday. That trader received it from a Dutch food trader, which received the meat from two Romanian slaughterhouses.

The statement didn't name the Romanian, Cypriot or Dutch companies.

Poujol supplied a Luxembourg factory, Hamon's statement said. The Luxembourg factory is owned by French group Comigel. The lasagna was ultimately sold under the Sweden-based Findus brand.

French supermarkets announced Sunday that they've recalled a raft of pre-prepared meals, including lasagna, moussaka and cannelloni suspected of containing undeclared horsemeat. The French ministers for agriculture, the food industry and consumer protection are holding an emergency meeting Monday with meat producers.

While horsemeat is largely taboo in Britain and some other countries, in France it is sold in specialty butcher shops and prized by some connoisseurs. But French authorities are worried about producers misleading the public. Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius called Sunday night on BFM television for “tough punishments” for what he described as “abominable” fraud.

An affair that started earlier this year with worries about horsemeat in burgers in Ireland and Britain has spread into a Europe-wide scandal.

The EU commissioner for agriculture is meeting Monday with Romania's foreign minister about the latest horsemeat worries. Romanian President Traian Basescu said Sunday that his country could face potential export restrictions and lose credibility “for many years” if the Romanian butchers turn out to be the root of the problem.

“I hope that this won't happen,” Basescu said in televised statements. Romania's agricultural ministry has begun an investigation.

 

 
 


Show commenting policy

Most-Read World

  1. Ukraine leaders fuel resentment in reluctant east
  2. Death toll in South Korean ferry sinking likely to drastically climb
  3. Ukraine leaders fuel resentment in reluctant east
  4. 284 missing, 4 dead in South Korea ferry disaster
  5. Al-Qaida in Yemen shows ‘strength,’ warns U.S.
  6. Taliban drop ceasefire, put Pakistani peace talks in doubt
  7. Crossbow attacks on dogs sweep through Managua, Nicaragua
  8. Terrorists hit heart of Nigeria, kill 72 in bombing at bus station
  9. Israelis rescind release of prisoners; U.S.-led peace talks falter
  10. Iran president ends monthly cash payment to 90 percent of citizens
  11. Ex-foreign minister in front in Afghan election; early results portend runoff
Subscribe today! Click here for our subscription offers.