Harmful sedatives found in scandal horsemeat

Horsemeat that made it into the production chain of ready-made meals contains potentially-harmful medication, it was revealed on Wednesday night as European agricultural ministers met in Brussels over the widening scandal.

The sedatives had been administered to three horses slaughtered in the UK and then exported, the British Agricultural Minister David Heath revealed according to a report from the AP news agency.

Observers in Sweden said they had not found traces of the drug.

“We are waiting for more test results but we don’t see any threat to the consumers,” Henrik Nyberg, Nordic head of Swedish ready-made meal producers Findus, told the Svenska Dagbladet (SvD) newspaper.

Officials in the UK, meanwhile, said the presence of the drug would likely not be harmful to humans.

“It is highly unlikely that a person who eats horsemeat with fenylbutazon would experiences any of the side effects associated with it,” national health service spokeswoman Sally Davies told AFP.

“A person would have to eat between 500 and 600 horsemeat burgers to get close to a daily dose for humans.”

On Wednesday night, Sweden’s Agricultural Minister Eskil Erlandsson met with his European counterparts in a bid to get to grips with the problem, which has been blamed on complicated supply chains, consumers’ low-price fixation, and little oversight from European Union level.

Meanwhile, the French company Spanghero, which is believed to have played a key role in the complicated supply chain, received an invoice for 42 tonnes of low-quality horsemeat, a revelation that contradicts the company’s own statement that it did not trade in “horsemeat of any kind”.

The invoice came from a Cyprus-based company believed to be selling meat from Romania.

Spanghero, which sold meat on to the Comigel food producers at the heart of the scandal, has yet to comment on the invoice, news agencies reported.

TT/AFP/The Local/at

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German authorities impose second local coronavirus lockdown

Germany on Tuesday placed a second district under lockdown over a coronavirus outbreak at a slaughterhouse, just hours after similar restrictions were imposed for a neighbouring area.

German authorities impose second local coronavirus lockdown
A man wearing a protective suit in the district of Gütersloh after a coronavirus outbreak at a meat plant. Now neighbouring district Warendorf is going into lockdown. Photo: DPA

“In order to protect the population, we are now launching a further safety and security package to effectively combat the spread of the virus,” North Rhine-Westphalia health minister Karl-Josef Laumann said Tuesday, ordering a lockdown for the district of Warendorf.

Authorities had earlier announced similar measures in the neighbouring district of Gütersloh after more than 1,500 workers tested positive for Covid-19 at the slaughterhouse.

Almost 280,000 people live in Warendorf. Businesses and cultural facilities will close, while all schools and daycare centres (Kitas) will also shut their doors.

READ ALSO: Explained – What you need to know about Germany's new local coronavirus lockdowns

In Gütersloh the new lockdown affected 360,000 people living there and will be in place until at least June 30th.

It came after more than 1,500 workers out of a total of nearly 7,000 have tested positive for Covid-19 at the slaughterhouse in Rheda-Wiedenbrück run by Tönnies.

All workers are currently in quarantine. However, authorities are now turning to tougher rules to try and control the spread of coronavirus.

The new lockdown in Gütersloh means a return to measures first introduced in March, with cinemas, museums, concert halls, bars, gyms, swimming pools and saunas shut down.

However, restaurants can remain open with rules in place.

Schools and Kitas were already closed last week in a bid to control the virus.