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French store finds horsemeat in lasagnes

A major French frozen food retailer said Tuesday it had found horsemeat in two lots of frozen beef lasagne meals it removed from its shelves last week.

French store finds horsemeat in lasagnes

Picard, which has hundreds of outlets across France that sell ready-to-eat meals, said the products were made by Comigel, the French firm which last week sparked the frozen food scandal now spreading across Europe.

The European Commission said Monday that Europe's horsemeat scandal appeared at this stage to be a labelling problem and definitely not a question of food safety.

"We're not talking about a food safety issue," Commission spokesman Frederic Vincent said on being queried at a news conference on the possibility of a British ban on EU meat exports.

"Nobody got sick as far as I know. It's just a labelling issue. So at this stage a ban on anything would not be appropriate."

Vincent's word come on the same day Anti-fraud agents on Monday inspected two French frozen food firms at the centre of a scandal over horsemeat sold as beef in supermarkets across Europe. French President François Hollande also said fraudsters must be punished.

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BEEF

France traces all suspect Polish beef, says some already sold

France's agriculture ministry said Saturday it had traced the remainder of suspect Polish beef imported into the country, adding that some of it had been sold to consumers.

France traces all suspect Polish beef, says some already sold
The Elkopol slaughterhouse in Kalinowo, western Poland. Photo: AFP

“The remaining 145 kilos have been identified in lots prepared by wholesalers, butchers or restaurants,” a statement said. 

In total, France imported 795 kg of meat from a Polish slaughterhouse where allegedly sick cows were butchered. Five hundred kilos were found and destroyed earlier and 150 kilos sold to consumers with the remaining 145 kilos unaccounted for until Saturday.

A ministry official told AFP that some of the remaining 145 kilos had already been sold.

“What is complicated is that the 145 kilos were mixed with meat of other origin” by a wholesaler.

“At this stage a few dozen restaurants and butchers' shops are concerned, mainly in the Paris region,” a statement said.

French Agriculture Minister Didier Guillaume has said nine French companies had been “duped” into importing beef from the Elkopol abattoir in Kalinowo, a village some 100 kilometres northeast of Warsaw.

Poland's chief veterinarian Pawel Niemczuk has confirmed that 2.7 tonnes of the suspect beef was exported to 13 EU countries. But Polish authorities have said the meat does not pose a health risk.

The slaughterhouse has been closed and a probe launched.

READ ALSO: France hunts for 800kg of suspect beef from sick cows

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