- Slaughterhouse is source of horsemeat that has been found on UK shelves
- Doly-Com confirms it is under investigation from Romanian authorities
- Director denies mis-selling: ‘We sold horse meat as horse meat’
- Some of the meat sold in supermarkets could have contained donkey, claims
A desolate abattoir in a remote corner of Romania was last night revealed as one of the main sources of the horse meat in our supermarkets.
The slaughterhouse dominates the tiny village of Roma, in the north east of the country, and makes no secret of the hundreds, if not thousands, of horses it butchers each year.
Visitors to the plant, which employs a fifth of the village’s 1,000 inhabitants, are greeted by an enormous hoarding displaying a grazing horse next to a cow.
The Doly-Com Abattoir in Roma, Botosani County, north east Romania which is the source of the horsemeat at the centre of the scandal
Advert: The giant hoarding outside the abattoir at the Roma plant
Romanian authorities have identified this meat processing plant, run by Doly-Com, as one of two sources of the horse meat at some point fraudulently labelled as beef. The other is the firm CarmOlimp in Brasov, Transylvania.
COULD THE HORSE MEAT FOUND IN SUPERMARKETS BE DONKEY?
There is some speculation that some of the horse meat found in supermarkets across Europe could belong to their cousins – the donkey.
A change in the law in Romania is being widely linked to the fraudulent sale of meat from the country.
The authorities are now enforcing road rules meaning that horses and donkeys can no longer pull traditional carts and are banned from major routes.
This form of transport has been traditional in the country for centuries but thousands or even millions of donkeys and horses have been sent to slaughter as there is less use for them, Jose Bove, vice-president of the European Parliament agriculture committee has said.
As a result it is feared that meats contaminated with horse and discovered in France, Sweden and Britain, may have contained donkey.
Agriculture minister Daniel Constantin last night confirmed the exported horse meat came from the two abattoirs but furiously denied they had been responsible for mis-selling the meat.
Yesterday, Iulian Cazacut, general director of Doly-Com, admitted to ‘buying horses from anyone’ for slaughter but insisted the firm had done nothing wrong.
He told the Mail the firm is now under investigation but said: ‘Everything that we sold was correctly labelled and recorded. We sold horse meat as horse meat. We are being investigated by the Romanian authorities.
‘Officials from the Food Safety Agency have been here. We have sold horse meat abroad.
We do not export horse meat to France but we export to the Netherlands, Sweden and Bulgaria.
Horse meat is a small part of our business – five per cent.
‘We buy horses from anyone – people who just pass by or from people who are getting rid of horses from farms that are shutting down or mechanising.’
Carm-Olimp, which is owned by the father of a junior Romanian agriculture minister, also claimed not to have mis-sold horse meat as beef.
Paul Soneriu, its director, said: ‘We only exported horse meat as horse meat. We did not export any beef in 2012.’
The director of Doly-com says horsemeat is a small part of the business, around five per cent
Butchered: An executive said the firm buys horses to slaughter from ‘anyone’
A maze of trading between wholesalers has made it increasingly difficult to trace the origins of the meat – enabling horse disguised as beef to be sold in frozen meals across Europe.
Manufacturing line: Workers at the Doly-Com factory
The horse meat found in British foods, including Findus and Tesco own label brands, had passed through several countries before ending up on our shelves.
Meat from Romania, which exports £10million of horse flesh a year, was at first sold to a trader in the Netherlands who was fulfilling an order placed by a Cypriot entrepreneur.
The Cypriot then sold the meat to French firm Spanghero – which supplies meat to Comigel – the company that made meals for Findus and Tesco at their factory in Luxembourg.
It appears that while the meat was sent to the Netherlands it was paid for by money sent from Cyprus.
Romania’s prime minister yesterday claimed any fraud over horse meat sold as beef had not happened in his country and he was angered by suggestions it might have been.
Victor Ponta said: ‘There is no breach of European rules. committed by companies from Romania or on Romanian territory.
‘I am very angry, to be honest. It is very clear that the French company did not have any direct contract with the Romanian company and … it has to be established where the fraud was committed and who is responsible for this fraud.’
Horse and carts remain a common means of transport in the Romanian countryside and some can even be seen on the edges of major cities.
Abator Roma employs a fifth of the entire village where it is located
Industrial: The abattoir exports horsemeat to France, Holland, Sweden and Bulgaria
The slaughterhouse dominates the village of just 1,000 people in north-east Romania
Refrigerated vans leave the slaughterhouse to take the meats all over Europe
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