Romania blames French importer in horsemeat scandal

Romanian food industry officials on Sunday pointed the finger of blame at the French meat importer at the heart of a growing European scandal over horsemeat sold as beef.

Bucharest on Saturday announced a probe after the French supplier of horsemeat found in frozen lasagne meals sold in British supermarkets said it originated in a Romanian abattoir.

"I find it hard to believe that a Romanian abattoir could have delivered horsemeat that was labelled beef" because of the controls in place, Dragos Frumoso, the head of Romania's food industry union, told AFP.

The suspect lasagne meals sold by Swedish frozen food giant Findus in Britain were made by French company Comigel using meat supplied by French meat-processing firm Spanghero.

Spanghero has in turn threatened to take legal action against its Romanian supplier, although it did not name it.

But Frumoso said it was up to the French importer to verify the quality of the meat it received.

"If it did not make any protest when it received the meat to say that it was horse and not beef, then either it was an accomplice to the Romanian producer or it changed the labels afterwards," Frumoso said.

Sorin Minea, president of the Romalimenta food industry federation, said the meat would have been labelled to show both the country of origin and the specific abattoir it came from.

"The French importer should show these documents. If it doesn't have them, it may indicate that it was bought on the black market or that it wants to hide something," he said.

Minea said Saturday it was impossible to confuse beef and horsemeat, which "has a specific taste, colour and texture."

mr/ln/txw/lc