At least 20 people were arrested in France on Monday in a wide-sweeping police operation that found traders were taking raw horsemeat used in animal experiments and selling it to butchers — who would then sell it to humans to eat.
The Daily Mail reported that much of the illegal — and dangerous — meat was being sold abroad, and butchers and distributors as far away as Britain were under investigation, also.
In the meantime, France's consumer affairs minister, Benoit Hamon, called the meat a massive health danger and that there was a "major risk" from eating the product, which should have been destroyed, The Daily Mail said.
Basically, investigators found that butchers have been selling cast-off and leftover meat from about 200 horses that had been used to test various vaccinations in laboratories that are owned and operated by pharmaceutical Sanofi Pasteur. The traders made big bucks from the sales — by as much of a markup as 300 timeS what the horse dealers themselves had paid for the meat, The Daily Mail reported.
The 20 were arrested in a dawn raid at various spots in southern France. Police from Spain helped with the operation, The Daily Mail said.
"There have been at least 20 arrests so far and more are expected," said one police spokesman, in The Daily Mail.
The meat, police say, was sold mostly between 2010 and 2012. It's suspected that much of it was actually used in frozen food products that were widely sold across Europe.
The horses that were used at the pharmaceutical labs for research should have been destroyed, under French law. But instead, their records were forged and the animals — and ensuing meat products — were sold, ultimately landing in the hands of butchers and consumers. None of the meat is safe for consumption, France's health officials said.
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