A meat processing firm in the south of France was named Thursday night as having a central role in the horsemeat lasagne scandal as a convicted Dutch fraudster who supplied the meat admitted close ties with the French firm, The Guardian reports today
“A French investigation suggested that meat wholesaler Spanghero was implicated in the scandal of ready-made frozen beef meals that contained horse flesh, affecting supermarkets across Europe. Benoît Hamon, the French consumer affairs minister, said the inquiry showed that Spanghero was the first ‘agent’ in the food chain to stamp the label beef on horsemeat. The investigation suggested the firm ‘knew that meat destined for ready meals was horse’.The French authorities found that Spanghero had profited to the tune of more than €500,000 (£430,000) over six months by marketing the cheap horsemeat as much more expensive beef.
Evidence also mounted of extensive and long-term collaboration between Spanghero and the Dutch trader, Jan Fasen, whose Cyprus-based company, Draap Trading Ltd, brokered the deal between two Romanian abattoirs and the French company, which last night denied acting improperly.Fasen was convicted last year for selling South American horsemeat as 100% Dutch or German beef and for faking the paperwork. He told the Guardian he had been working with Spanghero for up to seven years, but protested his innocence in the latest case, saying he had clearly labelled the meat as horse. He said he had also been supplying at least two other French firms with horsemeat purporting to be beef. Asked about his French customers, Fasen said on Thursday: ‘We are all one big family.’”