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British authorities raid slaughterhouse over horse meat scandal

By David Ariosto, CNN
February 12, 2013 -- Updated 2218 GMT (0618 HKT)
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • NEW: National Beef Association calls for more specific labeling of meat products
  • A firm called Farmbox Meats Ltd. also is raided amid the scandal
  • Operations suspended at both facilities; all remaining meat and firms' files seized

(CNN) -- Police and health officials have raided a slaughterhouse and meat company in the United Kingdom as part of an ongoing investigation into horse meat that was labeled as beef, authorities said Tuesday.

The West Yorkshire slaughterhouse is believed to have supplied horse carcasses to a firm called Farmbox Meats Ltd., which then sold the meat as beef for kebabs and burgers.

Authorities have suspended operations at both facilities and seized all remaining meat and company files, which include a client list. Neither company was immediately available for comment.

"I ordered an audit of all horse-producing abattoirs in the UK after this issue first arose last month and I was shocked to uncover what appears to be a blatant misleading of consumers," said Andrew Rhodes, Food Standards Agency director of operations.

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Environment Secretary Owen Paterson called the revelations "absolutely shocking."

"It's totally unacceptable if any business in the UK is defrauding the public by passing off horse meat as beef," he said. "I expect the full force of the law to be brought down on anyone involved in this kind of activity."

Horse meat was discovered in products that are supposed to be 100% beef sold in Sweden, the United Kingdom and France.

While authorities said there is no immediate cause for health concerns, the discovery was a new shock to an industry already reeling from a bombshell last month, when Irish investigators found horse and pig DNA in numerous hamburger products.

Investigations are under way in France, Sweden and Britain. The supply chain being studied includes more countries.

Earlier this month, Britain's National Beef Association called for more specific labeling of meat products and asked that the words "United Kingdom origin" be printed on packaging.

CNN's Erin Mclaughlin in London contributed to this report

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