The horsemeat scandal: A timeline


Published — Friday 15 February 2013

Last update 14 February 2013 11:52 pm

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PARIS: Below are the main developments in the frozen food scandal which erupted in Europe one month ago:
Mid-January 2013: Equine DNA is found in beef burgers in Britain and Ireland, countries where horsemeat consumption is generally taboo. Millions of beef burgers are removed from sale.
Feb. 7: Britain’s Food Standards Agency (FSA) announces that tests confirm that lasagne produced by processed food giant Findus contains up to 100 percent horsemeat.
Feb. 8: The French food company that supplied the lasagne, Comigel, says it has withdrawn all products from a meat supplier that had provided it with horsemeat instead of beef, French company Spanghero, which says that the meat comes from Romania and not France.
• Swedish food firms withdraw frozen lasagne meals from stores.
• Findus UK says that it withdrew the tainted products in Britain on Feb. 4.
Feb. 9: Spanghero says it bought European origin beef and had simply resold it. Spanghero says it will sue the Romanian supplier.
• Findus says it has been “deceived” and will file a complaint. The group says that the fraud could go back to August 2012.
• A French probe reveals the meat has been traced from France through Cyprus and the Netherlands to Romanian abattoirs.
• Romania opens an enquiry.
Feb. 10: The head of Comigel says the company has been “fooled” and vows to seek compensation.
Feb. 11: French anti-fraud agents search the premises of both Comigel and Spanghero.
• French ministers hold a crisis meeting with key players in the meat industry.
• Romania says there has been “no violation of European rules and standards” by its abattoirs.
• The Netherlands opens a probe.
Feb. 12: Supermarkets in France, Switzerland and the Netherlands pull readymade meals from the shelves out of precaution.
• France becomes the second European country to confirm the presence of horsemeat in frozen meals.
• In Britain, police and officials from the FSA raid a slaughterhouse in northern England and a meat-producing factory in Wales.
• The European Commission says it is too early to require labelling on meat used in processed foods and says the problem is one of fraud.
Feb. 13: Horsemeat is found in frozen lasagne in Switzerland and Germany.
• EU ministers hold a crisis meeting in Brussels. The EU’s executive calls in Europe’s law enforcement agency Europol and urges bloc-wide DNA food testing. It also urges checks for an equine veterinary drug that can be dangerous to humans — phenylbutazone — in all European establishments handling raw horsemeat.
Feb. 14: Le Parisien newspaper reports that Spanghero was billed for 42 tonnes of low grade horse meat by Draap Trading, the Dutch-run, Cyprus-based intermediary which sourced meat in Romania for the company.

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