In France, businessmen are being tried for fraud. They use cheap horse meat in fast food products and labeled it as beef, writes “Agro-Center”.
Two former directors of the French meat processing company “Spanghero” and two Dutch meat traders were put on trial in Paris on charges of using cheap horse meat in finished dishes and burgers and labeling it as more expensive beef. The products were sold in countries across Europe.
The scandal and the search for the men dates back to 2013 when horse meat was discovered in frozen hamburgers in the UK. What is more, horse meat was referred to as “pure beef” on the label. It turned out that the meat was supplied by the French meat processing company “Spanghero” that got the meat from a slaughterhouse in Romania through two companies located in Cyprus and the Netherlands.
The French consumer protection agency said that 540 tons of horse meat was sold by the men to a hamburger manufacturer and another 200 tons were used by “Spanghero” to produce sausage. Horse meat was referred to as “beef” on the label. As a result, horse meat disguised as beef was sold in 4.5 million finished dishes, which were bought in more than a dozen European countries.
Investigators say that the management of “Spanghero” knew they were buying frozen horse meat and gave orders to change the customs code on the package. The former head of the company Jacques Van Den and former director of the plant Patrice Mongion are being tried along with two traders from the Dutch and Cypriot firms.
The scandal highlighted the problem of food labeling and the complex supply chain throughout the EU trade bloc, undermining Europeans’ confidence in the quality of their food. Now the government will have to explain the omission in quality control.
“My client sold horse meat to Mr. Van Den because he ordered horse meat. He sold horse meat at the price of horse meat, and “Spanghero” sold it as beef at the price of 1.50 euros per kilogram. Who benefits from this? Judge for yourself,” explained Fasen’s lawyer.
The four men have been charged with fraud and face a maximum of ten years in prison and a fine of 1 million euros.