Published: 18 Feb 2013 15:52 GMT+01:00 | Print version
Updated: 18 Feb 2013 15:52 GMT+01:00
Leading food aid charities in France have declared they would be ready to hand out tonnes of recalled ready meals containing horsemeat, saying it would be "scandalous" to waste such a huge quantity of food.
Those keeping track of the on-going, Europe-wide horsemeat scandal, might have wondered at some point or another, what is to become of all those recalled frozen dinners.
They may soon have an answer, as some of France’s leading charities have made it clear they would be prepared to comandeer the tonnes of recalled microwave meals containing horsemeat, so they can be distributed among their poverty-stricken beneficiaries.
So far, six French supermarkets have recalled, or are planning to recall, thousands of ready-made dishes found to contain horsemeat, despite being labelled as beef.
Not wishing to see tonnes of food go to waste, three food aid charities - Restos du Coeur (‘restaurants with heart’) Secours populaire (People rescue) and Banque Alimentaire (the food bank) - are interested in getting hold of the meals and re-distributing them among the poor, as long as they posed no health risk.
The three charities met last week to try to work out a plan of action.
"Above all, these cannot be thrown out. If the meals are safe, we will take them," a branch manager from Secours Populaire told Europe 1 radio.
Philippe Le Mescam, head of the Brittany branch of 'Restos du coeur' was more vociferous, telling French regional daily Ouest France that “it would be scandalous to destroy all these tonnes of food, if tests show that they don’t pose a health risk."
The meals would also have to be re-labelled before being handed out, as their packaging wrongly suggests they only contain beef.
The supermarkets have not yet given permission to hand over the meals.
A spokeswoman for Restos du Coeur told The Local on Monday that for the moment, the charity would not be accepting the meals, saying there were many health issues to be sorted out before they could be redistributed.
For his part, director of the French federation of food banks Maurice Lony told The Local on Monday, “Our goal is to fight waste. These products are now in storage, awaiting some sort of resolution. So if they can’t be sold, we could take them and distribute them to deprived people."
However, Lony pointed out that his organization would also need health tests to be performed before handing them out, as well as gauging the appetites of food-bank users around the country, a process which he says they have already started.
“In the north of France there’s more of a culture of eating horsemeat, so people in that region are saying ‘yes’ to the meals. But in the south-west, for example, our users would be less ready to take the products,” said Lony.
When asked whether he himself would eat one of the packaged meals in question, Lony replied “Yes, I wouldn’t mind that.”
Elsewhere in the horsemeat scandal on Monday France partially renewed the sanitary licence of a meat-processing firm that was suspended after it was accused of passing off 750 tonnes of horsemeat as beef and sparking a Europe-wide food scandal.
Agriculture Minister Stephane Le Foll told AFP that Spanghero would be allowed to resume its production of minced meat, sausages and ready-to-eat meals but would not be allowed to stock frozen meats.
Spanghero's licence to handle meat was suspended last Thursday after the French government said an initial inquiry showed it had knowingly sold 750 tonnes of horsemeat mislabelled as beef over a period of six months.
The purchase of the famous upmarket French department store Printemps by investors from Qatar needs to be investigated by authorities for possible corruption, money laundering and tax fraud, unions demanded this week. READ () »
The proposal was labelled by critics as another example of the France's Socialist government attacking the richest. But after a u-turn announced on Friday the plan to limit executive pay in the private sector will not now see the light of day. READ () »
It could easily be the script of a grisly horror movie. Police arrested a man in Nice this week, suspected of chopping up his 95-year-old grandmother. According to sources the suspect admitted to having eaten part of the body. READ () »
IMF chief Christine Lagarde is spending a second day being questioned by French prosecutors on Friday as part of a probe into a €400 state payout to disgrace businessman Bernard Tapie. If Lagarde is charged she could be forced to quit the IMF. READ () »
At least 20 people were killed and several trainee officers taken hostage when Islamists militants carried out twin bombings on a French-run nuclear plant in Niger. The attack was claimed by the group Movemnent for Oneness and Jihad in West Africa (MUJAO). READ () »
Not everyone gets the chance to party with the stars at the Cannes festival for two days, unless that is, you are the French double of 'Gangnam style' entertainer Psy and you have the nerves of steel to pretend to be him. Meet Denis Carre our undisputed French Face of the Week. READ () »
Jewellery thieves have had some rich pickings at Cannes this year with jewellers announcing on Thursday that a €2million diamond De Grisogono necklace had been stolen, just days after €1.4 million worth of Chopard bling was pilfered. READ () »
Higher education has dominated the news in France recently thanks to plans for more courses to be taught in English so there's no better time to speak to an international academic to find out more about being a lecturer at a French university. READ () »
Of all the inappropriate shapes a teacher could use to teach geometry a swastika has to be near the top of the list, but not for one prof in France, whose use of the Nazi symbol to demonstrate angles has landed her in a spot of bother. READ () »
A contentious proposal that would see more courses at French universities taught in English was given the green light by deputies in the French parliament on Thursday. Critics say the move will lead to France losing its identity. READ () »