The scandal then intensified when French firm Comigel alerted Findus this month to the presence of horsemeat in the meals it had made for the food giant and which were on sale in Britain.
Since then, supermarket chains have removed millions of “beef” products as tests are carried out to detect horsemeat, which is eaten in many European countries but is considered taboo in Britain and others.
Horsemeat in “beef” ready-to-eat meals had already been confirmed in products found in Britain, Ireland, France, Austria, Norway, the Netherlands and Germany.
With Italy, Spain and Belgium now also tainted by the horsemeat scandal it appears that most of the continent has been affected.
France’s DGCCRF anti-fraud office concluded after an initial inquiry that 500 tonnes of Spanghero horsemeat were sent to Comigel, whose frozen meals were sold to 28 different companies in 13 European states.
Spanghero’s sanitary licence was suspended last Thursday after it was accused of passing off huge quantities of mislabelled meat over a period of six months.