French meat-processing firm Spanghero has rejected claims that it deliberately sold horsemeat labelled as beef.
It has released a statement saying it believed that it was selling beef. That was in response to the French government which blamed it for being actively involved and suspended its operating licence.
France’s Consumer Affairs Minister Benoit Hamon said “the investigation shows that Spanghero stamped ‘beef’ on horsemeat from Romania. Spanghero knew it was stamping meat that was potentially horsemeat.”
He also went on to add that Spanghero could also not have failed to notice that the meat in question was much cheaper than beef.
European ministers have now agreed to make the European policing agency Europol the coordinator to deal with the growing scandal.
Police in Britain, meanwhile have arrested three men on suspicion of Fraud Act offences after raiding a slaughterhouse and a meat packaging firm.
It has also emerged that eight horses, killed in the UK, tested positive for the painkiller bute and six may have entered the food chain in France.
England’s chief medical officer Dame Sally Davies says the highest level detected was 1.9mg of bute per kilo of horsemeat, which posed “very little risk to human health” as someone would have to eat around 600 burgers a day to be affected.