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The horsemeat scandal: a timeline

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(Globalpost/GlobalPost)

Below are the main developments in the frozen food scandal that erupted in Europe one month ago:

- Mid-January 2013: Equine DNA is found in beefburgers in Britain and Ireland, countries where horsemeat consumption is generally taboo. Millions of beefburgers are removed from sale.

- February 7: Britain's Food Standards Agency (FSA) announces that tests confirm that lasagne produced by processed food giant Findus contains up to 100 percent horsemeat.

- February 8: The French food company that supplied the lasagne, Comigel, says it has withdrawn all products from a meat supplier that had provided it with horsemeat instead of beef, French company Spanghero, which says that the meat comes from Romania and not France.

- Swedish food firms withdraw frozen lasagne meals from stores.

- Findus UK says that it withdrew the tainted products in Britain on February 4.

- February 9: Spanghero says it will sue the Romanian producer.

- A French probe reveals the meat has been traced from France through Cyprus and the Netherlands to Romanian abattoirs.

- Romania opens an enquiry.

- February 10: After Findus, which has launched a complaint, the head of Comigel says the company has been "fooled" and vows to seek compensation.

- February 11:. Romania says there has been "no violation of European rules and standards" by its abattoirs.

- February 12: Supermarkets in France, Switzerland and The Netherlands pull ready-made meals from the shelves out of precaution.

- France becomes the second European country to confirm the presence of horsemeat in frozen meals.

- The European Commission says it is too early to require labelling on meat used in processed foods and says the problem is one of fraud.

- February 13: Horsemeat is found in frozen lasagne in Switzerland and Germany.

- The EU calls in Europe's law enforcement agency Europol and urges bloc-wide DNA food testing. It also urges checks for an equine veterinary drug that can be dangerous to humans -- phenylbutazone -- in all European establishments handling raw horsemeat.

- February 14: Following a probe, France blames Spanghero, which allegedly knowingly sold 750 tonnes of horsemeat over a period of six months.

- Police in Britain arrest three men at meat plants suspected of passing horse off mislabelled as beef.

- Britain announces that phenylbutazone has been found in six horse carcasses sent to France by British abattoirs and which may have entered the food chain.

- February 15: Spanghero vows to prove its innocence.

- Norway and Austria join the list of countries in which horsemeat is found in frozen dishes.

- Danish food safety authorities probe whether a slaughterhouse may have mixed horsemeat into meat marked as beef that was supplied to pizza makers.

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http://www.globalpost.com/dispatch/news/afp/130215/the-horsemeat-scandal-timeline