Hårby Slagtehus, a slaughterhouse in the Jutland town of Skanderborg, can expect to be reported to the police by the nation's food authorities, Fødevarestyrelsen, this week for its role in the horsemeat scandal that has spread across Europe.
Hårby Slagtehus sold packages of mixed meat and Fødevarestyrelsen suspects that the slaughterhouse hadn’t indicated on the packages exactly which meat was part of the mix. The food authorities said that there could be horse, beef and ham mixed together in the packages.
“It’s completely unacceptable. The consumers don’t get what they think they are and I don’t know if this is a one-off case but the food authorities are going to concentrate more on which animals that are being used in the meat,” the food minister, Mette Gjerskov (Socialdemokraterne), told DR News.
Gjerskov added that her administration has made the horsemeat scandal a top priority.
“When we know the extent of the problem then we will decide on how to control the dilemma better,” Gjerskov said.
Hårby Slagtehus maintained that the restaurants it supplied with meat were aware that the meat, which the slaughterhouse sold under the labels of 'pizza meat' (pizzakød) and 'formed beefsteak' (formede bøffer), could contain horsemeat, but Fødevarestyrelsen went to six customers of the slaughterhouse and all said they thought they were purchasing beef. A control team from Fødevarestyrelsen took a total of nine samples from the six restaurants and found traces of horse DNA in three of the tests, traces of pig DNA in one sample and a combination of horse and pig DNA in five of the samples.
As the horsemeat plot continues to thicken, the Danish Red Cross has suggested that all the horsemeat meals being destroyed should instead be given to the poor and needy.
“There are millions of people who don’t eat food every day and even in Europe there are people who completely depend on handouts,” Anders Ladekarl, the general secretary at the Danish Red Cross, told DR News. “If we have good food that can be eaten then we shouldn’t be destroying it.”
Ladekarl suggested that the food be sent to Spain, Greece and eastern European countries, but contended that the people there must be told what is in the meat.
“In terms of health, it must be justifiable and people must know what they are eating," he said. "You can’t offer people beef if it’s horsemeat, but people have a choice and I don’t see any problems doing this.”
Ladekarl's suggestion was echoed by the German food minister, Dirk Niebel, who said it was irresponsible to be throwing away edible food.