Thursday

22nd Jun 2017

Horsemeat scandal widens to France, Sweden, Romania

  • Accusations are flying about who is responsible for the growing horsemeat scandal (Photo: European Commission)

Europe's horse meat scandal has widened to affect several member states, with Romania emerging as the possible source.

Britain first discovered the presence of horse meat in what were supposed to be beef burgers in late January, but subsequent investigations quickly found the tainted products in Ireland and now other EU countries, including France and Sweden.

Dear EUobserver reader

Subscribe now for unrestricted access to EUobserver.

Sign up for 30 days' free trial, no obligation. Full subscription only 15 € / month or 150 € / year.

  1. Unlimited access on desktop and mobile
  2. All premium articles, analysis, commentary and investigations
  3. EUobserver archives

EUobserver is the only independent news media covering EU affairs in Brussels and all 28 member states.

♡ We value your support.

If you already have an account click here to login.

The trail highlights the labyrinthine path of food from slaughterhouse to consumers' tables.

Benoit Hamon, French junior minister for consumer goods, in a statement on Sunday (10 February) said that French company Poujol had bought the meats from a Cypriot supplier who in turn had sourced the meat from a Dutch company which had been supplied by two Romanian abattoirs.

Poujol then supplied a Luxembourg factory, owned by French group Comigel. Sweden-based Findus brand then sold meat in packets of lasagne.

The French authorities have called for an emergency meeting with meat industry chiefs on Monday (11 February) . Meanwhile, six supermarket chains in France have withdrawn beef meals by Findus and Comigel from their shelves.

While there may not be any negative health effects from the horsemeat - still a popular food in some member states - companies risk suffering reputational damage.

The legal actions and accusations are already starting.

Both Findus Sweden and Findus France have said they want to take legal action.

French media is reporting that Spanghero, a Poujol subsidiary, bought the original meat. Spanghero, for its part, says it bought products labelled as beef from Romania and is also threatening to take legal action.

However, some in Romania are saying the beef industry was also implicated.

Sorin Minea, head of Romania's food federation, said that French importers must have known that they were not buying beef.

"Horsemeat has a particular taste, a particular colour and a particular quality," he said, according to Germany's Sueddeutsche newspaper.

For his part, EU agriculture commissioner Dacian Ciolos is to meet Romania's foreign minister on Monday to discuss the possible links to Romanian slaughter houses.

Ahead of the meeting, Romanian President Traian Basescu warned that his country would face loss of credibility and export restrictions "for many years" if the allegations prove to be true.

The number of countries affected by the scandal could rise - Comigel markets ready meals in 16 countries.

Experts suggest the horse meat scam will have proven highly profitable to those involved.

"Beef sells for around €4 a kilo while horse meat costs no more than 90 cent," Patrick Wall, an associate professor of public health at University College Dublin, told the Irish Times.

"So what we are seeing here is fraud on an absolutely huge scale … And the people behind this fraud would have been making enormous sums of money," he said.

EU reaches deal on long-running beef dispute

EU products such as France's Roquefort cheese and Italian mineral water narrowly escaped new US import duties this week following an agreement between the two sides on Wednesday over US hormone-treated beef.

EU horsemeat affair prompts DNA testing

The EU commission has urged member states to intensify DNA tests on meat products after revelations that horsemeat is being sold as beef.

Row between EU ministers halts e-book tax rate

A bill to reduce VAT rates on e-books and e-publications has become the latest victim of a row between the Czech Republic and its partners over its own plan to collect VAT.

Focus

EU and China move to fill US void

At a summit in Brussels, EU and Chinese leaders will attempt to deepen ties on trade and climate as US president Trump plans to pull out of the Paris climate deal.

Italy reaches EU deal on failing bank

After months of negotiations, the European Commission and Italy agreed on the terms of rescue for Monte dei Paschi di Siena bank, including job cuts, salary caps and private sector involvement in the bailout.

News in Brief

  1. Merkel denies Franco-German deal on EU agencies
  2. Dutch PM: Turkey is upholding migration deal
  3. Britain to outline rights of UK-based EU citizens
  4. Tusk can 'imagine' the UK still remaining in EU
  5. Norway offers more blocks for Arctic oil exploration
  6. EU court lowers evidence standards in vaccine ruling
  7. Merkel and Macron to speak at Kohl's EU ceremony
  8. EU commission presents plan to enhance tax transparency

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. World VisionFaces of Today, Leaders of Tomorrow: Join a Lively Debate on Violence Against Girls I 29 June
  2. ECR GroupThe EU Must Better Protect Industry from Unfair Competition
  3. Malta EU 2017Better Protection for Workers From Cancer-Causing Substances
  4. EPSUAfter 9 Years of Austerity Europe's Public Sector Workers Deserve a Pay Rise!
  5. Dialogue PlatformGlobalised Religions and the Dialogue Imperative. Join the Debate!
  6. UNICEFEU Trust Fund Contribution to UNICEF's Syria Crisis Response Reaches Nearly €200 Million
  7. EUSEW17Bringing Buildings Into the Circular Economy. Discuss at EU Sustainable Energy Week
  8. European Healthy Lifestyle AllianceCan an Ideal Body Weight Lead to Premature Death?
  9. Malta EU 2017End of Roaming Charges: What Does It Entail?
  10. World VisionWorld Refugee Day, a Dark Reminder of the Reality of Children on the Move
  11. European Social Services ConferenceDriving innovation in the social sector – 26-28 June
  12. Dialogue PlatformMuslims Have Unique Responsibility to Fight Terror: Opinon From Fethullah Gülen

Latest News

  1. Lack of eligible candidates dogs EU relocation scheme
  2. Border management going virtual
  3. Tusk hints UK could stay in EU, if it wanted
  4. Merkel, Orban and the not quite closed Balkan route
  5. EU set to roll over Russia sanctions amid defence talks
  6. May to soothe EU leaders' post-election Brexit worries
  7. Leaders at EU summit to reinforce Libyan coast guard
  8. Macron reshuffles French government to ward off scandals