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French company Spanghero accused of selling horsemeat as beef to fight allegation. Meanwhile, more horse meat was found in European ‘beef’ products. All Romanian companies have respected the EU standards, PM Ponta said.
The French meat company Spanghero accused by the government of knowingly selling horsemeat labelled as beef is to fight the allegation, euronews.com reports. Health & Consumer Policy Commissioner, Tonio Borg said in an official statement that he welcomes the announcement by the French authorities that they have identified and suspended the activity of a company which had knowingly sold horsemeat as beef, according to europa.eu. ”This is indeed a major step forward in an investigation which has been mobilizing the EU’s and Member States’ competent food and consumer authorities for a week now. Consumers must be assured that everything will be done at EU level to restore, as soon as possible, their confidence in the products on our markets,” he mentioned.
French Consumer Affairs Minister Benoit Hamon said Spanghero could not have failed to notice the imported horsemeat was cheaper than beef. Christophe Giry, Spanghero’s marketing manager, protested: “We delivered beef, sold beef and bought beef. Of course, we may have missed a few things and we’re willing to take responsibility, but to withdraw a license and kill a business. It’s a little bit disproportionate, don’t you think?” The company set up by the brothers of a former French rugby captain has had its operating licence suspended for 10 days and if suspicions are confirmed legal action will follow. The company has accused the government of being too quick to point the finger. The company’s founder, Laurent Spanghero, said: “We were bosses for 40 years. We did a lot. What will our kids and grandchildren think tomorrow when they are on the street? People will say, ‘He’s a Spanghero!’ Do you realise what is happening to our family?”
In his turn, Romanian Prime Minister, Victor Ponta said that Romania has been transparent with the EU and the international institutions and media. “Fortunately, all the companies on the Romanian national territory have respected the standards. Right now, it is the time to cooperate very fast to find out if the French company or somebody else is responsible and to punish the culprits and to improve the European procedures and regulations” he mentioned in an interview for CNN. Ponta also highlighted that if Romanian companies are proven to be involved, he would be the first to react. “The core of the issue in this affair is the public trust and I think that this is the right of every European citizen, and not only of European citizens (…)that is why the fraud that was committed should be punished very harshly and I salute the position of the French Government on this matter.”
EU launches testing programme
In Britain, Government ministers were warned almost two years ago that horsemeat was illegally entering the human food chain, it has been claimed, channel4.com informs. A former manager at the Meat Hygiene Service, now part of the Food Standards Agency (FSA), told a Sunday newspaper that he had helped draft a letter to the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) in April 2011 that was ignored.
As the EU launches plans for immediate DNA tests of beef products for the presence of unlabelled horse meat, more European countries have reported traces, euronews reports. In Britain it has been revealed that three more sites have been raided. Earlier, nationwide tests found horse meat in just over 1 per cent of samples. The scandal initially focused on a handful of countries after the discovery of horse meat in Irish burgers. Now investigations in several more European countries have found it in what are described as beef products. Authorities in Austria said horse meat had been detected in tortellini dishes made in Germany. In Norway lasagna products were withdrawn from supermarket shelves after testing positive. In Denmark an abattoir is under investigation, suspected of supplying horse labelled as beef to pizza manufacturers. A factory in the Netherlands was raided on Friday; At least two UK supermarkets have sought to reassure consumers; the British National Farmers Union has taken out newspaper ads urging people to “buy British”.
Hospitals in Britain are to assess all their meat suppliers to trace the sources; pies have been withdrawn from dozens of school kitchens in Lancashire after testing positive for horse meat. Across Europe more than 2000 tests are now planned. Between 10 and 150 tests are envisaged in each of the EU’s 27 member states. The authorities continue seeking to reassure consumers there’s no risk to human health.
Britons spurn frozen meals after horsemeat scandal
Almost a third of adults in Britain have stopped eating ready-meals as a result of the horsemeat scandal, while 7 per cent have stopped eating meat altogether, a poll has found, according to theage.com.au. The ComRes survey for the Sunday Mirror and The Independent on Sunday newspapers, which was released on Sunday, found that 31 per cent have given up eating ready-meals as the discovery of equine flesh in products labelled beef, spreads across Europe. The poll also found a 53 per cent to 33 per cent majority in favour of banning the import of all meat products “until we can be sure of their origin”.