Video: The Yorkshire abattoir at the centre of horse meat scandal

DAVID Cameron promised that anyone involved in passing off horsemeat as beef would face the full force of the law today after a plant in Yorkshire and another in Wales were raided and shut down.

Peter Boddy slaughterhouse in Todmorden, West Yorkshire, one of two British processing plants which were raided and shut down as part of the inquiry into the horsemeat scandal.
Peter Boddy slaughterhouse in Todmorden, West Yorkshire, one of two British processing plants which were raided and shut down as part of the inquiry into the horsemeat scandal.

Operations at Peter Boddy Licensed Slaughterhouse in Todmorden have been suspended by the Food Standards Agency (FSA) after officers visited with West Yorkshire Police yesterday.

The plant, at East Hey Head Farm in Hey Head Lane, is believed to have supplied horse carcasses to Farmbox Meats Ltd in Landre, Aberystwyth, which was also raided.

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The Prime Minister defended the Government’s response to the growing scandal, saying it was insisting on “meaningful” tests of products by retailers and suppliers.

Peter Boddy slaughterhouse in Todmorden, West Yorkshire, one of two British processing plants which were raided and shut down as part of the inquiry into the horsemeat scandal.

“If there has been criminal activity there should be the full intervention of the law,” he said.

The comments came after the two plants had records seized amid claims they supplied and used horse carcasses in burgers and kebabs.

Mr Cameron said it was “appalling” and “completely unacceptable” that consumers were buying beef products that turned out to contain horsemeat.

He said many of the current issues had come to light due to tougher tests that had been ordered by ministers, and pledged that in future results would be made public.

“We have also asked for meaningful tests from retailers and producers and they will be published in full,” he added.

Earlier, FSA director of operations Andrew Rhodes said its probe had discovered “blatant misleading of consumers” and would continue until there was “nothing left to find”.

“Our investigations have determined that we found horsemeat that was produced at the plant in West Yorkshire being sent to a location in west Wales, a business called Farmbox,” he told BBC Breakfast.

“We entered that premises yesterday, FSA enforcement officers entered that premises, following up on the evidence that we found and we spoke to the staff there and we seized product, and we found that horsemeat had been used as though it were beef in kebabs and burgers at that premises.”

Asked if he was alleging that horsemeat was passed off as beef, Mr Rhodes said: “That is absolutely right, yes.

“The Food Standards Agency is a science and evidence-led organisation and we don’t do things lightly. We have very good evidence to support the actions that we have taken.”

“Indeed we interviewed people on that site near Aberystwyth yesterday and those people confirmed that they received the goods that we believed they received and they told us what they had done with them.

“We are very clear on what has happened there.

“That is why we have seized all the meat that is there, that is why we have seized all the paperwork and that is why we involved the police both in Dyfed Powys and also in West Yorkshire.”

Asked if he believed that meat purporting to be beef had reached retailers and therefore had been sold to consumers, Mr Rhodes said: “I think we have to use our language carefully.

“When we talk about retailers, people typically think about supermarkets. We don’t have evidence of that at the moment, we also don’t have evidence that this is being used in mass production.”

He said five slaughterhouses in the UK process horses on a regular basis. “What we have been doing is investigating the trail from all of them,” he said.

“As I say, the majority of everything we have found has been completely in order as we would expect it to be.

“We have got one particular business where we had some suspicions from the evidence we uncovered which we followed through and that led us to the investigations that we carried out near Aberystwyth yesterday.

“We will continue with that investigation and we will keep pursuing this until there is nothing left to find.”

Andrew Rhodes, the FSA’s director of operations, said: “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.

“I have suspended both plants immediately while our investigations continue.”

Peter Boddy said he will co-operate with Food Standards Agency and denied officers had “raided” his premises.

He said: “It was not a raid – they are welcome to visit whenever they want, they just wanted to see my records, which I will be showing them.”

He added that he does slaughter horses at his plant and that the meat is sold as such in the UK.

Environment Secretary Owen Paterson last night confirmed it was the first suspected instance of a UK abattoir passing off horse as beef. Mr Paterson said: “This is absolutely shocking. It’s totally unacceptable if any business in the UK is defrauding the public by passing off horse meat as beef.

“I expect the full force of the law to be brought down on anyone involved in this kind of activity.”

Mr Paterson yesterday met representatives of supermarkets and food suppliers to discuss the growing scandal of horse meat mislabelled as beef.

Joining officials from the FSA, he talked to the Institute of Grocery Distribution, which represents food retailers and suppliers, to discuss plans for a new regime of quarterly testing of products.

Results of tests into the extent of contamination of beef products are expected on Friday.

Mr Paterson will travel to Brussels tomorrow to discuss the scandal with counterparts in EU countries.

Yesterday’s raids came as Waitrose announced it was pulling a range of beef meatballs after tests revealed they might contain pork.

A spokesman said that tests on the 480g packs of 16 frozen Essential Waitrose Meatballs had been contradictory but it was removing them from sale as a precaution.

“We have discovered that in two batches of our frozen meatballs produced last summer some of the meatballs may contain some pork,” he said.

“Several tests have been done on this product and, even though the results have been contradictory, we have taken the precautionary action of removing the frozen meatballs from sale and putting up customer information notices in all our branches.

“The meatballs are safe to eat but pork is not listed as an ingredient and should not be part of the recipe.”

Only 480g packs labelled as Best Before End June 2013 and August 2013 are affected, he added.

Supermarket giant Tesco joined frozen food firm Findus and budget retailer Aldi in dropping French supplier Comigel on Monday after discovering a range of spaghetti bolognese ready meals made by the firm contained more than 60 per cent horse meat.

The National Beef Association has suggested the words “United Kingdom origin” should be added to packaging to prevent “further cheating” by European suppliers.

Fraud investigations linked to the horse meat scandal are 
pointing towards the Continent, the head of food standards 
in Northern Ireland said yesterday.

Gerry McCurdy said the probe into the source of the fraud had still some way to go but it was clear that cost differences between beef and horse meat offered an “extremely helpful financial incentive” for wrongdoing.

“The information available to us does point in the direction of Europe but we cannot be definitive about that at this point in time until those investigations are complete,” he said.

He said 18 countries were involved and negotiations were going on with individual member states of the EU and the European Commission.