European consumers apparently have been eating horsemeat, labeled as beef in supermarkets, without realizing it.
Spanish police arrested 65 people this month who were allegedly part of a racket that sold horsemeat throughout Europe but labeled it as other types of meat, CNN reported. Spain’s national police, or Civil Guardia, joined Europol in alleging the suspects sold meat from horses “in bad shape, too old or simply labelled as ‘not suitable for consumption.'”
The boss of the horsemeat racket was an unidentified Dutch businessman who was arrested in Belgium, the BBC reported. The racket is believed to be linked to an earlier scandal in which horsemeat was labeled as beef and sold through some of Britain’s biggest supermarkets, including Aldi and Tesco.
British businessman Andronicos Sideras is currently on trial for fraud in London’s Inner Crown Court for his role in the earlier horsemeat scandal, The Guardian reported.
During the earlier investigation, the Food Safety Authority of Ireland discovered that 10 out of 27 hamburger products it examined contained horsemeat. One beef burger in Tesco, a major British grocery, was comprised of as much as 29 percent horsemeat.
The suspects paid low prices for old, crippled or abused horses that were scheduled to be euthanized, Europol charged. They then forged documents and doctored microchips to make the horseflesh look like good meat and resold the horses to slaughterhouses.
“The people concerned in this case would sell meat and they would pretend it was all beef,” prosecutor Jonathan Polnay said, according to The Guardian. “It was not. In fact, it was a mixture of beef and horsemeat. The fraudsters made money by selling a mixture of expensive beef and cheap horsemeat as 100 percent expensive beef.”
Many Europeans eat horsemeat; the largest consumers are in Italy and France.
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