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France investigating 'criminal fraud' in horsemeat scandal

France’s Ministry of Agriculture is launching an investigation into the ongoing horsemeat scandal, which it says they consider a matter of “criminal fraud”.

THE MINISTRY OF Agriculture in France is launching an investigation into the ongoing horsemeat scandal, which they consider a matter of “criminal fraud”.

France’s anti-fraud watchdog DGCCRF confirmed last night night that it is trying to trace the origin of the fraud, after a French company providing beef products to Findus was found to have included horsemeat with its beef.

Food company Findus tested 18 of its frozen beef lasagne products from its French supplier Comigel and found 11 meals containing between 60 per cent and 100 per cent horsemeat.

The Findus meals have been taken off the shelves in Britain and Ireland, pending analysis to see whether the products contained ‘bute’ – a chemical used in veterinary treatments, but which legally require a recipient animal to be withdrawn from the food chain.

Yesterday, Swedish retailers also began to withdraw some frozen meals manufactured by Comigel, as details about the scale of the contamination emerged.

Ireland’s Minister for Agriculter Simon Coveney has called on a European-wide response regarding the DNA testing of meat.

Tests on two frozen beef dishes sold by Aldi in Ireland also tested positive for horse meat contents – prompting the food safety watchdog to advise customers not to eat them. The two products “tested positive for between 30 per cent and 100 per cent horsemeat”, the Food Safety Authority confirmed.

Spanghero, the French supplier of meat for Findus lasagna products, said today it was ready to sue the Romanian source of its meat.

“We bought European origin beef and we resold it. If it really is horsemeat, we are going to go after the Romanian supplier,” Spanghero President Barthelemy Aguerre told AFP by telephone.

- © AFP, 2013

Additional reporting by Jennifer Wade

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