UK lasagne horsemeat came from Romanian abattoir

PARIS (AFP) - Horsemeat found in frozen lasagne sold in British supermarkets originated in a Romanian abattoir, the French supplier Comigel told AFP on Friday.

The meat was provided to Comigel via a meat-processing company called Spanghero, which is based in Castelnaudary in southwestern France, company chairman Erick Lehagre said.

Mr Lehagre told AFP that Comigel thought it was being supplied with beef from French cattle. After the scandal broke however it had established that Spanghero was sourcing the meat in Romania.

"We realised a week ago that there was a problem, after being alerted by customers in Britain," Mr Lehagre said.

"We have identified the supplier concerned, Spanghero. They've told us the meat came from a Romanian producer who used abattoirs which slaughtered both cattle and horses and processed beef and horsemeat."

Mr Lehagre said the company, which produces its frozen products in Luxembourg but is based in Metz, France, had notified British and French authorities as soon as he had become aware of the problem.

Spanghero is based in what is regarded as the home town of cassoulet, a celebrated stew of beans and meat in a rich tomato sauce, and was established by two former France rugby players, Claude and Laurent Spanghero.

The company was forced in 2011 to withdraw 12 tonnes of minced meat from the market because of fears of contamination with the potentially fatal bacteria E.coli, according to local newspaper Midi Libre.