Three arrests in Britain over horsemeat scandal

Three men at meat plants in Britain suspected of passing horsemeat off as beef have been arrested Thursday on suspicion of fraud, police said.

Two men were arrested in Aberystwyth on the west coast of Wales where a food processing plant is based, and one was detained in West Yorkshire in northern England, where police raided a slaughterhouse on Tuesday.

The men arrested in Aberystwyth were aged 42 and 64 and in a simultaneous operation a 63-year-old man was arrested at the Peter Boddy Slaughterhouse in Todmorden, police in Wales said.

"Dyfed-Powys Police can confirm the three people have been arrested on suspicion of offences under the Fraud Act and they are being detained at Aberystwyth Police Station," a statement said.

Both the processing plant and the slaughterhouse were shut down by Britain's Food Standards Agency on Wednesday.

They are the first two plants in Britain accused of selling horsemeat labelled as beef.

Concerns about horsemeat first emerged in mid-January when Irish authorities found traces of horse in beefburgers made by firms in the Ireland and Britain and the UK and sold in supermarket chains including Tesco and Aldi.

The discovery has sparked a European crisis, with supermarkets across the continent withdrawing millions of beef products.