Romania PM says no horsemeat fraud committed


A horse seller drives his chart at an animal fare in Rosiori de Vede, Romania on Dec. 15, 2006.


Daniel Mihailescu

Romania's prime minister on Monday denied claims that horsemeat was fraudulently sold as beef from his country, Reuters reported.

"From all the data we have at the moment, there is no breach of European rules committed by companies from Romania or on Romanian territory," Victor Ponta said at a news conference.

After detecting horsemeat in beef products sold by the food giant Findus, both France and the UK vowed to find those responsible. It was at first thought Romanian meat plants were to blame. However, it's unclear when in the supply chain the fraud occurred. 

"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," Ponta said.

More from GlobalPost: French supermarkets pull beef products in wake of horsemeat scandal

Authorities are less concerned about health effects from the contamination, and more alarmed that consumers were unwittingly misled into buying and eating a somewhat taboo food.

Michel Barnier, a former French agricultural minister, said the scandal was an issue of justice, not food safety, the Associated Press reported, citing Europe 1 radio.  

"Consumers have the right to the truth, quality and transparence. We have to do more in tracking," he said. 

It's unclear who is responsible for mislabeling the food. As the AP points out, the "maze of trading between meat wholesalers has made it increasingly difficult to trace the origins of food."

UK Environment Secretary Owen Paterson told the BBC on Monday: "This is a case of fraud and a conspiracy against the public, this is a criminal action, substituting one material for another." 

Suspicious food has been withdrawn from markets in Britain, France and Sweden. 

[View the story "Horsemeat scandal erodes consumer trust" on Storify]