Dutch plant raided for 'mixing horse and beef': prosecutor

THE HAGUE (AFP) - Dutch officials on Friday raided a meat processing plant in the south of the Netherlands believed to be mixing horse meat and beef and selling it on as pure beef, the public prosecutor said.

The unnamed plant in North Brabant province allegedly bought horse carcasses from the Netherlands and Ireland which were shredded and mixed with beef and sold on as pure beef, the prosecutor's office said in a statement.

It was not clear whether the plant in question is connected with the tainted beef scandal sweeping through Europe and it is not known where the allegedly mixed meat was eventually delivered, the statement said.

The plant was probed as part of a criminal investigation by the prosecutor's office and the government's food and consumer watchdog NVWA.

The company that owns it is suspected of fraud and money laundering. Officials seized company paperwork during the raid.

The raid came as the European Union agreed the immediate launch of tests for horse DNA in meat products as part of a plan to battle food fraud following the eruption of the horsemeat scandal.

Since the problem was first discovered in Ireland in January, governments have scrambled to figure out how and where the mislabelling of the meat happened in the sprawling chain of production spanning abattoirs and meat suppliers across Europe.