Norway calls meeting over horsemeat scandal

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09:41 CET+01:00
Norway's government on Friday called for a meeting of the country's largest food retailers and food safety authorities to discuss the situation after horsemeat was found in lasagnes sold in stores across the country.

"It's the country of production that has the responsibility to carry out controls," Health Minister Jonas Gahr Stoere said. "There are a lot of elements indicating that this is an organised crime," he said.

Norway's food safety authorities said meanwhile they would soon begin conducting DNA tests on frozen meals labelled as containing beef, following a similar announcement made by the European Union, of which Norway is not a member.

Three big Norwegian food retailers said Friday that horsemeat had been found in frozen lasagne dishes that had already been withdrawn from store shelves, the first confirmed cases in the country.

Norway's biggest food retailer NorgesGruppen and its competitors Coop and Rema 1000 said horsemeat had been found in frozen lasagne dishes labelled as containing beef.

All of the dishes were made by the French company Comigel which makes frozen food and which is at the centre of the horsemeat scandal engulfing Europe.

Comigel has claimed that it was tricked by French meat supplier Spanghero, which the French government on Thursday accused of knowingly selling around 750 tonnes of horsemeat as beef.

Spanghero meanwhile said it had been the victim of a fraud.

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Supermarkets across Europe have pulled millions of frozen ready meals from the shelves since last week, after tests revealed that large quantities of horsemeat had made their way into products labelled as beef.

Falsely-labelled meat has been found in Austria, Britain, France, Germany, Norway and Switzerland.

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