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Last updated: February 14, 2013 9:52 am
The director of a Dutch company that received horsemeat from Romania at the centre of a food scare was convicted of selling horsemeat labelled as beef to France last year.
Jan Fasen, director of Draap Trading, was found guilty in January 2012 of relabelling South American horsemeat as German beef for resale in France, court documents show. The court in the Dutch City of Breda sentenced him to at least nine months in prison. References to his French client have been redacted in the court documents.
The company’s name, “Draap”, is the Dutch word for horse (”paard”) spelt backwards.
A phone call to Mr Fasen at a number listed for Draap Trading in Cyprus, where the company is domiciled, was not returned.
However, Mr Fasen told the Guardian newspaper that meat he had supplied to a French meat company, Spanghero, had been clearly labelled as horse. “It was all sold as horse,” he said. “There is no issue.”
The discovery of horsemeat in pre-cooked foods in European countries has sparked a continent-wide investigation into the supply chain and allegations of fraud.
The horsemeat scare began when UK supermarkets this month found horsemeat in products labelled as beef and prepared in France with meat delivered from Romania via the Netherlands.
Romanian veterinary officials have confirmed that horsemeat labelled as such from the CarmOlimp slaughterhouse was bought last year by Draap Trading for delivery to a cold storage facility in Breda.
Jeffrey Grootenboer, director of Nemijtek Refrigeration, the cold storage company in Breda, said Mr Fasen was a longtime client, if one of his smallest ones.
Mr Grootenboer said he had known Mr Fasen was on trial for falsifying halal stickers – the case was reported in the local media at the time – but had been unaware of the conviction for substituting horsemeat.
“I’m amazed he was able to continue doing business,” Mr Grootenboer said.
Mr Grootenboer said any pallets that arrived at Nemijtek, including horsemeat, would be picked up and taken away by the owner untouched with their labels intact. The facility does not have a licence to allow processing to take place on its site.
French anti-fraud officials have identified the Netherlands as the source of horsemeat entering the French supply chain but Draap Trading has not been accused of being the supplier.
Inspectors at the Dutch food and products authority, responsible for ensuring the safety of the supply chain, have refused to release any details on how they think the substitution occurred until the results of an investigation are complete early next week.
It was unclear what steps the authority had taken to block Mr Fasen from dealing in meat after his conviction. Mr Grootenboer said he had asked the authority during Mr Fasen’s trial whether he could continue to trade with him, and had been assured that he could.
“If they tell me he can do business, who am I to say no?” Mr Grootenboer asked.
Draap Trading has no listing at the Dutch Chamber of Commerce.
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