horsemeat (7)

10566574865?profile=RESIZE_400xDefendants are accused of participation in supply of horsemeat unfit for human consumption across Europe

18 people, including two veterinarians, are appearing in court in Marseille on Monday accused of involvement in a vast illegal trafficking network across Europe that allegedly supplied horsemeat unfit for human consumption to wholesalers and butchers.

The defendants, from France, Germany, Belgium, the Netherlands and Spain, are thought to have bought and sold thousands of retired draft horses and racehorses, and even ponies, that were exported to Belgium where they were allegedly given fake identification and tracking documents before being sent back to abattoirs in the south of France.

They have been charged with fraud as part of an organised gang, or supplying false and deceptive goods liable to be a danger for human health, and face up to 10 years in prison if convicted. Eight of the accused have been in custody since 2015 after European police smashed the continent-wide network.

More than 150 horse owners were victims of the alleged scam, of which around fifty have filed civil suits.

The national council of the order of veterinarians, the municipality of Alès and the National Interprofessional Association of Livestock and Meat (ANBV) have also brought civil action.

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8028918875?profile=RESIZE_400xThe European Commission's Joint Research Centre (JRC) publishes a monthly Food Fraud Summary summarising food fraud incidents and investigations from around the world. The September 2020 Summary has just been published. In particular, a large scale horse and donkey meat fraud has been investigated in Colombia, where horses and donkeys, often sick animals, were slaughtered and adulterated with chemicals, and sold as beef for school meals. The fraud took place between May 2018 and September 2019, and involved 2-2.5 tonnes of meat each week.

Read the monthly summary here

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4817817072?profile=RESIZE_710xTwo fraudulent horsemeat shipments were seized in Europe last week, marking the start of an expected surge in food fraud.

The seizures have reinforced concerns among food safety experts that criminals will target food supply chains disrupted by the pandemic.

The horsemeat samples were held in the Netherlands and Denmark, with one intended for “unauthorised placing on the market,” according to the EU’s RASFF food safety register.

“You’ll see that regulators across Europe will probably now be looking at horsemeat and the labelling of it much more closely because those two cases have been identified,” said Louise Manning, professor of agri-food and supply chain security at Royal Agricultural University.

It was “unusual” to have two horsemeat seizures in as many days, she said, though it was unclear whether it was due to increased fraud activity or greater vigilance.

The risk of food crime has soared during the pandemic as the collapse of foodservice and the closure of meat processing plants has created a dramatic imbalance in supply and demand.

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China is now Australia's biggest export market for beef. However, PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) estimates that every second kilogram of beef sold in China under the banner of being Australian is not actually Australian beef.  Worst still, estimates by an Australian company, Beefledger based on industry insiders, suggest that 90% beef sold is not what it claims to be. It either does not originate from the country it claims to come from, or is not the cut of meat it claims to be, or is not beef at all. To address this significant problem Beefledger are about to launch blockchain technology for its supply chain to China, so that information about cattle location, health, transport and processing is uploaded into the Beefledger blockchain interface at every point in the supply chain. This will ensure Chinese consumers can purchase its beef with confidence.

Although there is no evidence of horsemeat being traded to China, a television report by Australian Broadcasting Company, ABC has shown a distressing account of retired race horses being slaughtered for human consumption, and this trade is far higher than the official data claims.

3705180202?profile=RESIZE_710x Read the two articles - ABC News  and the Daily Mail

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The Spanish Guardia Civil, in coordination with Europol, has dismantled an organised crime group that was trading horsemeat in Europe that was unfit for human consumption. During the investigation, Guardia Civil was able to locate the Dutch businessman related to the 2013 Irish case of the beefburgers containing horse meat
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At a Inner London Court hearing on 26 October, 3 men have been charged with fraud offences of conspiring to sell horsemeat as beef between January and October 2012. Two of the men have pleaded guilty, and will be sentenced after the hearing. The third pleaded not guilty, and will face trial.

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BEUC Report : Dishonest Labelling Still an Issue

BEUC’s latest report found croquettes containing half the quantity of meat declared on the label, sulphites used to make minced beef look fresher, and chicken sold as veal in kebabs.

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