France makes arrests over horsemeat

French authorities have arrested 21 people after more than 200 laboratory horses, deemed unfit for human consumption, entered the French food chain.

The arrests were made due to hundreds of horses being falsely sold to the food chain between 2010 and 2012, of which 60 were believed to have come from pharmaceutical company Sanofi Pasteur.

The company used the horses for developing serums against diseases such as rabies and poisons, but denied there was any threat to human health.

The UK national press has reported that the horsemeat in question could have entered the British food chain as well as the French, but this has yet to be confirmed.

A spokesperson from the Food Standards Agency (FSA) said: “We are aware of the action being taken in France and are requesting further information from the French authorities. The investigation into the horsemeat incident is ongoing across Europe and, in the UK, is being led by the City of London police.”

French Consumer Affairs Minister Benoit Hamon told RTL radio: “These were horses that should have ended up at the slaughterhouse, and instead they ended up at the butcher. There are horses that should end up neither on your plate nor at the butcher, and that’s the work of this investigation.”

French Agriculture Minister Stéphane Le Foll said that defrauding the security was “unacceptable” and that the government departments had made tighter controls on horsemeat fraud.

“I have every confidence in the justice services helping my department, for this investigation to go through, and that those responsible are punished severely. The government is committed to implement all the means necessary for this type of traffic to stop,” Le Foll added.

The investigation was conducted under the authority of the Attorney General in Marseilles and saw the Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Forestry and the National Brigade of Veterinary and Phytosanitary Surveys being actively involved.