A desolate abattoir in a remote corner of Romania was last night revealed as one of the main sources of the horse meat in our supermarkets.
The slaughterhouse dominates the tiny village of Roma, in the north east of the country, and makes no secret of the hundreds, if not thousands, of horses it butchers each year.
Visitors to the plant, which employs a fifth of the village’s 1,000 inhabitants, are greeted by an enormous hoarding displaying a grazing horse next to a cow.
Romanian authorities have identified this meat processing plant, run by Doly-Com, as one of two sources of the horse meat at some point fraudulently labelled as beef. The other is the firm CarmOlimp in Brasov, Transylvania.
Agriculture minister Daniel Constantin last night confirmed the exported horse meat came from the two abattoirs but furiously denied they had been responsible for mis-selling the meat.
Yesterday, Iulian Cazacut, general director of Doly-Com, admitted to ‘buying horses from anyone’ for slaughter but insisted the firm had done nothing wrong.
nvestigation but said: ‘Everything that we sold was correctly labelled and recorded. We sold horse meat as horse meat. We are being investigated by the Romanian authorities.
‘Officials from the Food Safety Agency have been here. We have sold horse meat abroad.
We do not export horse meat to France but we export to the Netherlands, Sweden and Bulgaria.
Horse meat is a small part of our business – five per cent.
‘We buy horses from anyone – people who just pass by or from people who are getting rid of horses from farms that are shutting down or mechanising.’
Carm-Olimp, which is owned by the father of a junior Romanian agriculture minister, also claimed not to have mis-sold horse meat as beef.
Paul Soneriu, its director, said: ‘We only exported horse meat as horse meat. We did not export any beef in 2012.’
A maze of trading between wholesalers has made it increasingly difficult to trace the origins of the meat – enabling horse disguised as beef to be sold in frozen meals across Europe.
The horse meat found in British foods, including Findus and Tesco own label brands, had passed through several countries before ending up on our shelves.
Meat from Romania, which exports £10million of horse flesh a year, was at first sold to a trader in the Netherlands who was fulfilling an order placed by a Cypriot entrepreneur.
The Cypriot then sold the meat to French firm Spanghero – which supplies meat to Comigel – the company that made meals for Findus and Tesco at their factory in Luxembourg.
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