The horsemeat scandal: a timeline

Agence France-Presse

Posted at Feb 14 2013 11:56 PM | Updated as of Feb 15 2013 07:56 AM

PARIS - Below are the main developments in the frozen food scandal which erupted in Europe one month ago:

- Mid-January 2013: Equine DNA is found in beefburgers in Britain and Ireland, countries where horsemeat consumption is generally taboo. Millions of beefburgers are removed from sale.

- February 7: Britain's Food Standards Agency (FSA) announces that tests confirm that lasagne produced by processed food giant Findus contains up to 100 percent horsemeat.

- February 8: The French food company that supplied the lasagne, Comigel, says it has withdrawn all products from a meat supplier that had provided it with horsemeat instead of beef, French company Spanghero, which says that the meat comes from Romania and not France.

- Swedish food firms withdraw frozen lasagne meals from stores.

- Findus UK says that it withdrew the tainted products in Britain on February 4.

- February 9: Spanghero says it bought European origin beef and had simply resold it. Spanghero says it will sue the Romanian supplier.

- Findus says it has been "deceived" and will file a complaint. The group says that the fraud could go back to August 2012.

- A French probe reveals the meat has been traced from France through Cyprus and the Netherlands to Romanian abattoirs.

- Romania opens an enquiry.

- February 10: The head of Comigel says the company has been "fooled" and vows to seek compensation.

- February 11: French anti-fraud agents search the premises of both Comigel and Spanghero.

- French ministers hold a crisis meeting with key players in the meat industry.

- Romania says there has been "no violation of European rules and standards" by its abattoirs.

- The Netherlands opens a probe.

- February 12: Supermarkets in France, Switzerland and the Netherlands pull ready-made meals from the shelves out of precaution.

- France becomes the second European country to confirm the presence of horsemeat in frozen meals.

- In Britain, police and officials from the FSA raid a slaughterhouse in northern England and a meat-producing factory in Wales.

- The European Commission says it is too early to require labelling on meat used in processed foods and says the problem is one of fraud.

- February 13: Horsemeat is found in frozen lasagne in Switzerland and Germany.

- EU ministers hold a crisis meeting in Brussels. The EU's executive calls in Europe's law enforcement agency Europol and urges bloc-wide DNA food testing. It also urges checks for an equine veterinary drug that can be dangerous to humans -- phenylbutazone -- in all European establishments handling raw horsemeat.

- February 14: Le Parisien newspaper reports that Spanghero was billed for 42 tonnes of low grade horsemeat by Draap Trading, the Dutch-run, Cyprus-based intermediary which sourced meat in Romania for the company.