Findus fights back: Blame game spreads across Europe as minister warns of horsemeat in other meals

Firms embroiled in escalating horsemeat contamination scandal prepare to sue as allegations focus on Romanian abattoir

Two companies embroiled in the horsemeat scandal have revealed they are ready to sue further down the supply chain, as the investigation spreads across Europe and a government minister warns more contamination may be found in other food.

Speaking after emergency talks with industry leaders Owen Paterson, the Environment Secretary, said: "There may well be more bad results coming through, that's the point of doing this random analysis.

"This is a conspiracy against the public. Selling a product as beef, and including a lot of horse in it is fraud."

He also said retailers hold the "ultimate responsibility" for making sure that horsemeat is not in their products.

The Food Standards Authority (FSA) have asked retailers and processors to test all their processed beef products to make sure they are what they say they are, with the results expected by next Friday.

Findus, whose "beef" lasagne was found to contain up to 100 per cent horse DNA, is preparing a legal case against whoever is found to have caused the contamination. In a statement, the firm said: "Findus is taking legal advice about the grounds for pursuing a case against its suppliers, regarding what they believe is their suppliers’ failure to meet contractual obligations about product integrity.

"The early results from Findus UK’s internal investigation strongly suggests that the horsemeat contamination in Beef Lasagne was not accidental."

The Trading Standards Institute has said the discovery of such high levels of horse meat suggests "deliberate fraudulent activity," and Scotland Yard said officers met the FSA over the scandal, although there is currently no official police investigation.

And Spanghero, the French company who supplied the meat for the lasagne, announced they will sue their Romanian suppliers.

The firm's President Bartholemy Aguerre said today: "We bought European origin beef and we resold it. If it really is horsemeat, we are going to go after the Romanian supplier." He did not disclose the name of the supplier.

The lasagnes, as well as similarly contaminated ready meals sold by the budget supermarket Aldi, were supplied by by French frozen food giant Comigel. The meat packed at Comigel's Luxembourg factory, where the contamination originated, came from Spanghero's plant in south-west France.

It has also been revealed that 20 months ago the factory was at the centre of a major E.coli scare.

Inspectors had feared the Spanghero factory had churned out 12 tonnes of meat harbouring the potentially fatal bacteria. 

Spanghero told the Daily Telegraph it had been given a clean bill of health following the E.Coli scare, with a source saying: "The beef was destroyed as a precaution but it did not threaten anybody’s health."

A criminal investigation is ongoing, and Mr Paterson said: "I've got a nasty feeling it's actually a criminal conspiracy.

"And that's why it's quite right for the FSA to engage the Metropolitan Police who are working with other police forces across the mainland of Europe."

Findus has also had to reiterate that it only learned this month about the contamination, which could have begun as early as August 2012. This followed accusations that it had known earlier but failed to tell regulators.

Yesterday Aldi said it felt "angry and let down" over the horsemeat content in their products.

Prime Minister David Cameron has said the matter is "shocking" and "completely unacceptable".

Labour leader Ed Miliband described the situation as "appalling".

He added: "I think people in the country will be quite shocked that horse meat has been in the food that they have been innocently buying.

"The Government has got to get a grip on this situation."

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebookA unique anthology of reporting and analysis of a crucial period of history
News
science
News
people
Life and Style
President Obama, one of the more enthusiastic users of the fist bump
science
Arts and Entertainment
Peter Griffin holds forth in The Simpsons Family Guy crossover episode
tv
Life and Style
Upright, everything’s all right (to a point): remaining on one’s feet has its health benefits – though in moderation
HealthIf sitting is bad for your health, what happens when you stay on your feet for a whole month?
Independent
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
santorini
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Agile Tester

£28000 - £30000 per annum + competitive: Progressive Recruitment: An ambitious...

Senior SAP MM Consultant, £50,000 - £60,000, Birmingham

£50000 - £60000 per annum + Benefits: Progressive Recruitment: Senior SAP MM C...

SAP BW BO

competitive: Progressive Recruitment: SAP BW BO - 6 MONTHS - LONDON London (Gr...

HSE Manger - Solar

£40000 - £45000 Per Annum: The Green Recruitment Company: Job Title: HSE Mana...

Day In a Page

A new Russian revolution: Cracks start to appear in Putin’s Kremlin power bloc

A new Russian revolution

Cracks start to appear in Putin’s Kremlin power bloc
Eugene de Kock: Apartheid’s sadistic killer that his country cannot forgive

Apartheid’s sadistic killer that his country cannot forgive

The debate rages in South Africa over whether Eugene de Kock should ever be released from jail
Standing my ground: If sitting is bad for your health, what happens when you stay on your feet for a whole month?

Standing my ground

If sitting is bad for your health, what happens when you stay on your feet for a whole month?
Commonwealth Games 2014: Dai Greene prays for chance to rebuild after injury agony

Greene prays for chance to rebuild after injury agony

Welsh hurdler was World, European and Commonwealth champion, but then the injuries crept in
Israel-Gaza conflict: Secret report helps Israelis to hide facts

Patrick Cockburn: Secret report helps Israel to hide facts

The slickness of Israel's spokesmen is rooted in directions set down by pollster Frank Luntz
The man who dared to go on holiday

The man who dared to go on holiday

New York's mayor has taken a vacation - in a nation that has still to enforce paid leave, it caused quite a stir, reports Rupert Cornwell
Best comedians: How the professionals go about their funny business, from Sarah Millican to Marcus Brigstocke

Best comedians: How the professionals go about their funny business

For all those wanting to know how stand-ups keep standing, here are some of the best moments
The Guest List 2014: Forget the Man Booker longlist, Literary Editor Katy Guest offers her alternative picks

The Guest List 2014

Forget the Man Booker longlist, Literary Editor Katy Guest offers her alternative picks
Jokes on Hollywood: 'With comedy film audiences shrinking, it’s time to move on'

Jokes on Hollywood

With comedy film audiences shrinking, it’s time to move on
It's the best of British art... but not all is on display

It's the best of British art... but not all is on display

Voted for by the British public, the artworks on Art Everywhere posters may be the only place where they can be seen
Critic claims 'I was the inspiration for Blanche DuBois'

Critic claims 'I was the inspiration for Blanche DuBois'

Blanche Marvin reveals how Tennessee Williams used her name and an off-the-cuff remark to create an iconic character
Sometimes it's hard to be a literary novelist

Sometimes it's hard to be a literary novelist

Websites offering your ebooks for nothing is only the latest disrespect the modern writer is subjected to, says DJ Taylor
Edinburgh Fringe 2014: The comedy highlights, from Bridget Christie to Jack Dee

Edinburgh Fringe 2014

The comedy highlights, from Bridget Christie to Jack Dee
Dame Jenny Abramsky: 'We have to rethink. If not, museums and parks will close'

Dame Jenny Abramsky: 'We have to rethink. If not, museums and parks will close'

The woman stepping down as chair of the Heritage Lottery Fund is worried