French firm eyed in horse meat scandal

Feb. 9, 2013 at 2:07 PM

LONDON, Feb. 9 (UPI) -- A French firm that passed off horse meat as beef to British shoppers was at the center of a scandal involving potentially fatal bacteria in 2011, officials say.

Britain and France have both opened investigations into French processor Spanghero after ready-to-eat meals sold in Britain as containing beef were found to be 100 percent horse meat, The Daily Telegraph reported Saturday.

Spanghero recalled 12 tons of beef in July 2011 because of suspicions it was contaminated with E.coli, the French Agriculture Ministry said.

In the current controversy, French frozen food giant Comigel, which bought the processed meat from Spanghero, insisted all the meat came from French cattle.

Comigel President Erick Lehagre said after the horse meat scandal broke, he learned the meat purchased from Spanghero had actually come from a plant in Romania that processes beef and horse meat.

A source at a Spanghero plant in Castelnaudary told the Telegraph the closure of nearby French slaughterhouses had forced the company to rely increasingly on imported meat.

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