PARIS: French company Spanghero was billed for 42 tonnes of low grade horsemeat, a newspaper reported Thursday in a revelation that casts doubt on the French company's claim to have never knowingly bought or sold the product at the centre of a Europe-wide food fraud scandal.
Le Parisien newspaper published a bill dated January 4 that was made out to Spanghero and printed on the headed paper of Draap Trading, the Dutch-run, Cyprus-based intermediary which sourced meat in Romania for Spanghero.
The bill contains the numbers 0205 0080, which the paper said was an international code for frozen horsemeat. Spanghero did not immediately respond to AFP's request for an explanation of the bill.
Le Parisien said Romanian authorities had shown it three similar bills. In total, the bills add up to orders for 42 tonnes of minced offcuts -- the fat, tendons and other pieces left over after the horse has been deboned and the prime cuts removed.
Romanian officials have been angered by what they see as an attempt by the French companies involved in the scandal to point the finger of blame at their abattoirs.
They insist horsemeat leaving their slaughterhouses would have been clearly labelled as such and that the fraud must have occurred further along the food chain.
Spanghero said in a statement earlier this week that it did not "sell, re-sell or process horsemeat in any form." In a statement to Le Parisien, the company denied receiving any bill for horsemeat from Draap Trading.
The horsemeat Spanghero received was passed on to another French company, Comigel, which was responsible for using it in frozen ready meals which were labelled as being 100 percent beef.
Comigel insists it could not have known the meat it was using was horsemeat and that it alerted authorities immediately once it knew there was a problem.