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Meat From Horses Used in Medical Research Allegedly Sold as Food in France

By December 17, 2013

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horse meat In the Netherlands, paardenrookvlees (smoked horse meat) is eaten on buttered bread for breakfast or lunch. Image: Wikimedia

Close on the hooves of the meat mis-labeling scare comes news that meat from horses used for drug testing found its way into France's food chain.

After receiving a tip-off that hundreds of horses owned by the drug maker Sanofi may have been sold as food, police raided several Sanofi offices and slaughterhouses early on Mon., Dec. 16, according to police reports.

So far, 21 have been arrested for fraud including veterinarians, butchers and meat dealers. The horse meat was sold by a Sanofi research lab to slaughterhouses after their veterinary papers were falsified, police said.

A Sanofi spokesperson said the horses had been used to incubate antibodies to manufacture serums used against tetanus, rabies and snake bites. The company said it was cooperating with the investigation but denied that the 200-some horses it sold to veterinary colleges, individuals or horse centers posed a public health threat. "The horses are all micro-chipped for tracability and they do not present any danger in the event of human consumption," a spokesman said. "It is specified in their sales certificates that these horses are not to be introduced to the food chain, but that is as a precautionary measure, not because there is any danger."

Eating horse meat is still widespread in Belgium, France, the Netherlands, Spain and Italy.

Earlier this year horse meat was found in millions of prepared foods labelled as beef and sold in several European countries.

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