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Poland rejects horse meat allegations

PR dla Zagranicy
Peter Gentle 25.02.2013 11:40
UPDATED - The Polish government has denied reports that Poland is a source of the horse meat scandal, with one UK newspaper claiming that gangs are using the trade to “launder money”.

The sign of the company Wingert Foods Ltd. is seen at the entrance of the company's headquarters in Cuxhaven, Germany, 23 February 2013. Wingert Foods on 22 February 2013 announced that it recalls one of its products from their label Maitre Corbell. The company informed the media that it can not be excluded that the steaks might contain horse meat:

The magazine Der Spiegel writes that beef products with traces of horse found in a ready-made goulash product at the low-cost retailer Aldi supermarket were produced by German firm Dreistern Konserven, after sourcing its meat from Mipol, a beef producer in southern Poland.

Five supermarkets in Germany recalled lasagna, chili, tortellini and goulash products last week after finding traces of horse in the products.

Mipol was previously named as the Polish beef supplier of Silvercrest foods, the Irish manufacturer at the heart of the original find which led to frozen beef burgers, found containing horse DNA, being taken off supermarket shelves in Ireland in January.

Der Spiegel also claims another, unnamed, supplier in northern Poland had delivered some 20 tonnes of meat worth 60,000 euros to the Vossko German firm via a dealer in Denmark.

Agriculture Minister Stanislaw Kalemba refuted the allegations, Monday morning, however.

"Poland is so far clean as a whistle. Poland is off the hook,” he told the PAP news agency, after nationwide inspections failed to find existence of horse in beef products.

Meanwhile, despite Poland's sanitary inspectors coming up empty handed when searching around 15 different slaughterhouses for traces of horse meat, the Sunday Telegraph reported from the ancient horse market in the village of Skaryszew, about 100 kilometres from Warsaw, claiming that “horses sold for meat at a night-time fair in Poland are being transported across Europe in a trade that has suspected links to organised crime”.

Though most of the horses, being sold at around 1020 euros a piece, are destined for Italy, where horse meat is popular, the meat could have gone on to enter British supermarkets under the guise of beef products.

The trade in live horses – cheaper than keeping slaughtered animals in cold storage during transportation – could involve the participation of organised crime groups, the newspaper claims.

For “Polish authorities, suspect the answer is simple: that the horses are being used in a form of money laundering,” writes the newspaper, although no official from Poland is quoted as saying so.

“The suspicion is that the movement of horses creates a convenient paper trail for gangs to “clean up” dirty money,” the Sunday Telegraph alleges.

Two weeks ago, another Sunday newspaper in the UK, the Observer, claimed that “Polish and Italian mafia” were behind the horse meat trade, quoting “unnamed sources” close to the investigation into the scandal in Britain.

Minister Kalemba told journalists this morning that the original allegations coming from Ireland were “unfair” and that “there are at least a dozen countries in Europe and South America under suspicion" of contaminating beef with horse. (pg)

This article was updated at 11.23 Monday after statement by agricultural minister.

Read on
Horse found by Czechs in Polish beef burgers, thenews.pl, 25 Feb

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