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Economy

300 jobs at stake as French horsemeat scandal company's fate decided Monday

media The Spanghero plant in Castelnaudary Reuters/Jean-Philippe Arles

The fate of the company at the centre of the horsemeat-for-beef scandal will be decided on Monday, the French minister in charge of the food-processing industry has announced. Ministers are to meet union representatives of Spanghero’s 300 employees and a vets’ report is to be delivered to the government.

The government suspended Spanghero’s veterinary licence on Thursday after declaring the company, based in Castelnaudary in the south-west, responsible for the substitution of horsemeat for beef in more than 4.5 million ready-made meals sold in 13 different European countries.

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“In the course of the day will have the results of the inquiry carried out in the Castelnaudary factory by the veterinary brigade and it will allow is to say what will happen to the company’s activity,” minister Guillaume Garot told France Inter radio. “But I understand the dismay of the employees.”

He and Agriculture Minister Stéphane Le Foll will announce in the evening whether Spanghero will be allowed to continue doing business, Garot said, adding that, so far as he knew, there has been no risk to health.

The 300 workers have been laid off since Thursday and fear the factory will be closed.

The government has made it clear that it does not hold them responsible for the fraud and the unions hope that production of foods other than beef will be allowed to resume.

Spanghero was bought from the family of that name by Basque cooperative Lur Berri in 2009. Former boss Laurent Spanghero has said he will try and find a buyer for the factory.

The French government says that its inquiries so far have established that the meat, bought from a Romanian abattoir via a circuitous route, arrived in France labelled horsemeat and left the factory labelled EU origin beef.

Spanghero bosses insist that they thought it was beef.

The Dutch trader who procured the meat, Jan Fasen, insists that he sold the meat as horse.

But he is currently appealing against a 2012 sentence of a year in prison after being found guilty of selling Argentine horsemeat as halal beef to French company Chiron.

Chiron found that two previous consignments of meat bought from Fasen in 2007 and 2009 were contaminated.The Dutch trader who procured the meat, Jan Fasen, insists that he sold the meat as horse.

But he is currently appealing against a 2012 sentence of a year in prison after being found guilty of selling Argentine horsemeat as halal beef to French company Chiron.

Chiron found that two previous consignments of meat bought from Fasen in 2007 and 2009 were contaminated.
 

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