Sources close to the Prime Minister have slammed supermarkets for their “silence” over the horse meat scandal, as the Food Standards Agency (FSA) prepared to release results of widespread meat testing on Friday (February 15).
“It isn’t acceptable for retailers to remain silent while consumers have been misled about the content of the food they have been buying,” a source told BBC News.
Retailers should supply answers to three questions, said the source. Those were: what caused the horse meat crisis, to what extent have retailers probed their supply chain and how can further problems be prevented?
But retailers pledged to comment on the continuing horse meat scandal once the results of tests on processed meals, designed to reveal the presence of horse DNA, were made public.
British Retail Consortium director general Helen Dickinson told the Today programme: “We have been concentrating on what is most important to consumers [identifying the extent of horse meat contamination]. Retailers take very seriously their responsibility to ensure food is safe to eat and as it says on the label.”
Arrested three people
Police arrested three people yesterday on suspicion of food fraud at premises in Wales and West Yorkshire. Dyfed-Powys Police arrested two men aged 64 years and 42 years at Farmbox Meats near Aberystwyth.
A third man aged 63 − reportedly Peter Boddy − was arrested at the Peter Boddy Slaughterhouse in Todmorden, West Yorkshire.
Operations at both plants had been suspended after the police raid earlier this week. The FSA said: “Dyfed-Powys Police can confirm that three people have been arrested on suspicion of offences under the Food Fraud Act. They are being detained at Aberystwyth Police Station where they will be interviewed jointly by police and FSA staff in what has become a joint operation.”
Meanwhile, the French government has accused French meat processing firm Spanghero of food fraud in selling horse meat labelled as beef.
French consumer affairs minister Benoit Haman said: “Spanghero transforms but also commericalises meat, so it could not be unaware of market prices. The price of the meat [sold by the processor] was well below the price for beef.”
Horse not beef
Haman added that customs codes on papers accompanying the meat imported from Romania clearly identified the product as horse not beef.
The meat was clearly labelled as horse when it left the abattoir, he said.
Spanghero has denied any wrong-doing.
The firm – whose licence has been suspended – sold the meat on to Comigel, which made frozen meals for European retailers including Findus. Last week Findus withdrew its frozen beef lasagne after tests revealed some products contained up to 100% horse meat .
The French government said that it believed the alleged fraud had lasted for six months and involved about 750t of meat.
Last night chilled food manufacturer Greencore became one of the latest food businesses entangled in the horse meat crisis.
Greencore confirmed that it supplied the beef bolognese sauce that Asda withdrew from sale after tests revealed the presence of horse DNA.
“The sauce contained meat that was supplied to Greencore under contract by the ABP Food Group’s Nenagh plant in County Tipperary, Ireland, an approved and regularly audited supplier,” according to a Greencore statement.
“The company is working closely with them to determine the full facts as we await the results of the further tests.”
FSA tests on Friday revealed no new cases of contamination and only 1% of cases testing positive for horse DNA.