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Lab experiment meat in UK supply chain?

18 December 2013

Meat from animals used in laboratory experiments has ended up in the food supply chain, according to new investigations. Experts fear that the meat could have ended up on British dinner tables.

Following the arrest of 21 suspects in the south of France accused of illegally selling animals for human consumption, British police and food safety experts are looking into whether the meat has been sold over here.

The horses were used in labs, including those of vaccine giant Sanofi Pasteur, to produce antibodies. They should have been humanely destroyed, but instead it is suspected the meat was sold on abroad, potentially to Britain.

France’s consumer affairs minister Benoît Hamon said the meat could pose a ‘major risk’ to public health.

“These were horses unsafe for consumption that should have ended up at the slaughterhouse, and instead potentially ended up at the butcher,” he said. “There are horses that should end up neither on your plate nor at the butcher.”

Alain Bernal, spokesman for Sanofi Pasteur, said the company was cooperating with the investigation, but did not know how long the fraud had been going on. “‘It could involve hundreds of horses, if this has been going on for several years,” he said. “In the last three years, we must have discharged 200 horses.”

Meanwhile, a Food Standards Agency spokeswoman said it was investigating the threat to Britain. “We are aware of the action being taken in France and are requesting further information,” she said.

Det Supt Bob Wishart added that the City of London Police are already liaising across Europe ‘with a number of jurisdictions in what is a complex inquiry’.

The raids were prompted by a tip-off about a butcher in Narbonne who is believed to have bought some of the Sanofi Pasteur horses and sold them on as beef. He was arrested at his home.


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