PARIS Feb 10 Six big French retailers said on
Sunday they were recalling lasagna meals and other products
suspected of being mislabeled after the discovery of horsemeat
in beef products.
The British unit of frozen foods group Findus
began recalling its beef lasagna last week on advice from its
French supplier, Comigel, and the French and British governments
have since vowed to punish those found responsible for allowing
horsemeat originating from Romania to be sold as beef.
French retailers' federation FCD said on Sunday that French
supermarkets were also pulling several products supplied by
Findus and Comigel on concerns that they were mislabeled. The
supermarkets are Auchan, Casino, Carrefour,
Cora, Monoprix and Picard
An initial French investigation has revealed that the
horsemeat ended up in Comigel's Luxembourg factory supplied by a
French company and that a Dutch and Cypriot trader had also been
involved although the meat originally came from a Romanian
"Clearly we have what seems to be a large-scale fraud
affecting all of Europe and which aimed to make money for
certain companies, though we don't know exactly which ones,"
Health Minister Marisol Touraine said on France Inter radio.
French Consumer Affairs Minister Benoit Hamon said in Le
Parisien newspaper that the apparent fraud had generated profits
of 300,000 euros and may have been going on since August.
The French government investigation aims to establish a list
of all the companies that bought suspect products from Comigel
in France and across Europe.
Hamon said he expected the investigation to reveal whether
French meat processor Spanghero at the heart of the supply chain
was aware it had bought horsemeat or had been deceived.
For its part, Spanghero said in a statement that it had
simply bought meat labeled as beef of Romanian origin and sold
it on without having processed the meat.
The company, which does not usually sell horsemeat, said it
planned to take action against its supplier.
In the wake of the scandal, the French government is
stepping up controls of meat supply chains and summoning
companies in the industry on Monday to stress that regulations
must be respected.
Eating horsemeat is a taboo in Britain and although once
common fare in France it has been out of fashion for decades.