The Straits Times
Published on Feb 17, 2013

France blames Spanghero bosses as Britain probes horse meat warning


PARIS (REUTERS) - France said on Sunday managers at French firm Spanghero were responsible for passing off horse meat as beef, while Britain said it would investigate claims that warnings about horse meat entering the food chain were raised in 2011 but ignored.

Revelations that some beef dishes actually contained horse meat have caused a scandal across Europe, leading to products being removed from sale and police investigations. It has also cast a spotlight on food labelling and the complex supply chain across the European Union, damaging Europeans' confidence in the food on their plate and putting pressure on governments to explain lapses in quality control.

An investigation into activities at meat-processing firm Spanghero has revealed "serious, specific and coherent" reasons to suspect it knowingly defrauded customers and consumers by selling them horse meat labelled as beef, the government said.

However, the firm's 330 workers were not to blame and would meet with Agriculture Minister Stephane Le Foll on Monday to determine how they would be paid until the plant, whose sanitary licence has been revoked temporarily, could reopen.