Romania's national veterinary and foot control authority ANSVSA initiated a quick response alert on Wednesday after it found horse meat labelled as beef at a company in Ilfov county near Bucharest, a press release says. ANSVSA says the meat was aimed at local market distribution and no connection could be made with the EU-level horse meat situation. The head of ANSVSA also announced he informed the police about what he called a form of intimidation, by which the horse meat was linked to an abattoir owned by his father.
The ANSVSA head had ordered checks at facilities where meat is traded, processed or stored. A beef sample was collected at a company in Ilfov county on February 13. The product was received from a freezing storage facility in Alba county, central Romania.
On February 19, the Veterinary Public Health and Hygiene Institute issued the the results of the sample analysis confirming it was found to be horse meat. Checks took place at the Ilfov firm the same day and it was found that it came from a freezing storage facility in Alba county.
All the suspected products were retained and an order was issued that the already distributed meat be withdrawn.
During the inquiry, the manager of the deposit admitted that the products were labelled with false labels, using the names and data of authorised units.
ANSVSA insists that the meat was bound for local consumption and the case was in no way linked to the EU-level horse meat situation.
It also relates to speculation in the Romanian media on Wednesday about the alleged involvement of an abattoir managed by ANSVSA president's father. The ANSVSA press release says that the said abattoir was not authorised to slaughter horses and insisted that, given this lack of authorisation, the media speculation was not supported by facts.
Romania TV news channel reported on Wednesday that the horse meat was coming from the Florea Carn abattoir owned by Florea Turcanu, ANSVSA president Mihai Turcanu's father. and by Florin Turcanu, head of the County Council of Botosani, north Romania, who also leads the local branch of the National Liberal Party.
Romania TV, which is owned by a politician, is known for its hostile attitude related to the Liberals.
Later on Wednesday, ANSVSA head Mihai Turcanu reacted to the accusations by saying he alerted the police in the cae. He said him being involved in the scandal was a form of intimidation by some meat processing companies in the context of ANSVSA-ordered checks.
And he said a producer in Alba county forged the labels, using the name of Florea Carn. "It is a gross falsification", he said.