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Work resumes at horsemeat scandal firm as Nestlé withdraws products in Italy, Spain

Reuters/Michaela Rehle

Work resumed at the French company at the centre of the horsemeat-for-beef scandal on Tuesday as Nestlé became the latest food company to withdraw ready-to-eat meals from supermarkets.

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The French government on Monday afternoon lifted the ban on production at Spanghero, the meat-processing plant in south-west France that appears to be responsible for the fraud according to a government-sponsored inquiry.

The production of minced meat, sausages and readymade meals, which was stopped on Thursday, was authorised with ministers explaining that the bosses, not the workers, were responsible for the scam.

But, after a brief meeting with management, most of the employees went home again. A low level of production was due to start Wednesday and then increase later in the week.

Spanghero is still forbidden to stock frozen food, as the inquiry continues.

The company’s future looks uncertain, thanks to the disastrous publicity it has received.

Comigel, the company to which it sold the mislabelled meat, said Tuesday that it had broken off relations with Spanghero, although its purchases only represented a small proportion of Spanghero’s receipts.

In developments elsewhere:

  • Swiss-based food giant Nestlé announced it was removing beef ravioli and beef tortellini from supermarkets in Italy and Spain after tests found traces of horse DNA in them;
  • Brazil-based JBS ordered its Belgian branch to stop buying European meat “until confidence is restored in the European beef supply chain”;
  • HJ Schypke, the German company that supplies Nestlé and JBS, denied any responsibility for beef in Nestlé products;
  • German supermarket Lidl pulled readymade meals off the shelves in Finland, Denmark, Sweden and Belgium.

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