French officials have accused the Food Standards Agency of providing “imprecise” information about horse carcases with bute - and causing three additional contaminated carcases to be processed and €30,000 worth of meat to be destroyed.
In mid-February, the FSA said six horses that had been slaughtered in the UK and sent to France had tested positive for the veterinary drug phenylbutazone (also known as bute). The French government subsequently said three of those carcases had probably entered the French food chain, while the other three had been intercepted and destroyed.
However, it has now emerged all six carcases were processed, by Calais-based company Ferme du Paradis.
Confusion about the information provided to Ferme du Paradis to allow it to trace the three additional contaminated carcases meant they ended up being processed and mixed together with uncontaminated horsemeat.
Reuters France reported this week that French officials were blaming the FSA, claiming it provided “imprecise” information.
The FSA said information provided by the UK slaughterhouse may have caused the confusion. “The FSA provided kill numbers to the French authorities, but the slaughterhouse also used load numbers, which it supplied directly to the French customer,” said a spokeswoman. “This may have contributed to the difficulty in tracking the affected carcases.”
Once French officials and Ferme du Paradis discovered the mix-up, the meat processor was required to destroy eight tonnes of horsemeat - worth €25,000 to €30,000 - to ensure no meat with bute was sold to the public. Ferme du Paradis declined to comment but, according to French media, plans to seek compensation from the UK.