It just gets worse and worse...
WE DO NOT WANT HORSE SLAUGHTER IN THE UNITED STATES! ~Declan
** For more frequent updates on the European horsemeat scandal, please also visit Children 4 Horses on Facebook, where more articles and updates are also posted. **
Mafia gangs connected to horsemeat scandal
By Horse & Country on 11th-Feb-2013 As Posted on
According to the World Horse Welfare horsemeat is far less regulated and cheaper to produce ©Chris Ison/PA Archive/PA
As the horsemeat scandal escalates, criminal gangs are suspected of messing with food production and making millions out of it.
Following the recent spate of contamination, which revealed that Findus frozen lasagnes contained up to 100% horsemeat, the Metropolitan Police has been called in to investigate, and is working alongside other forces in Europe.
Environment secretary Owen Paterson fears that a worldwide criminal network could be responsible for the scandal. If this turns out to be the case, the goverment has said it will bring in the Serious and Organised Crime Agency.
“I'm concerned that this is an international criminal conspiracy here and we've really got to get to the bottom of it,” said Paterson.
According to a report in the Observer, experts within the horse slaughter industry claim that there is evidence of Polish and Italian mafia gangs running large operations where horsemeat is substituted for beef during food production. Collaboration with vets and officials working at abattoirs and food production plants is coerced through intimidation.
These industry sources have suggested that there are also gangs operating in Russia and the Baltic states. Indeed the meat used in the Findus ‘beef’ lasagnes came from Romania.
The frozen products were made by a French company called Comigel, whose supplier is Spanghero, which is also based in France. Comigel president Erick Lehagre initially said that Spanghero supplied their beef from French cattle, however he was then forced to retract his statement when the horse meat scandal broke.
“We realised a week ago that there was a problem, after being alerted by customers in Britain,” said Lehagre. “We have identified the supplier concerned, Spanghero. They've told us the meat came from a Romanian producer who used abattoirs which slaughtered both cattle and horses and processed beef and horse meat.”
Comigel is sueing Spanghero, which also claims it is the victim of fraud and in turn intends to sue its Romanian supplier.
If the meat is from Romania, as suspected, it is likely to be infected with equine infectious anaemia (EIA). This disease is endemic in Romania and while is poses no risk to humans, it led to the ban of exporting Romanian horses three years ago.
According to Roly Owers, from the World Horse Welfare, horsemeat is far less regulated and much cheaper to produce, which inevitably leaves the industry - and horses - open to abuse.
“After BSE the whole beef system was far more tightly regulated in terms of identity, testing and locality, but with horses that’s not the case,” he said.
However, Paterson remains emphatic that this is an issue of labelling fraud – and “not a matter of health, for the moment.” However, he also warned consumers to expect “further bad news over the week” as tests are carried out by the FSA on all processed meats.
“We do not know how far this incompetence or worse, criminal conspiracy, extends," he said. "If we find there's a product which could potentially be injurious to public health, then emphatically I would take necessary action.”