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Butchers cash in on Europe horsemeat scandal

European countries are expected to step up testing of food products, in response to a Europe-wide scandal of horsemeat being sold as beef.

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German officials have announced the first suspected case of horsemeat mislabelled as beef having been delivered to the country amid a widening scandal in Europe.

Germany was alerted via a European quick warning system late on Tuesday of suspicions that mislabelled processed lasagne was, or could have been, brought into the country, a consumer protection ministry spokeswoman said.

It was delivered to at least one trader in the western state of North Rhine-Westphalia (NRW), where authorities are checking whether the product has been withdrawn from the market, she said.

"It also has to be checked whether in the products there actually is or was undeclared horsemeat," she told a regular government news conference.

That came as ready meals by frozen food giant Findus thought to contain horsemeat instead of beef were pulled from supermarket shelves in Norway.

"Frozen products that may contain horsemeat have been exported to Norway," the Norwegian Food Safety Authority said in a statement, adding that "all the major supermarket chains and Findus have confirmed to the food authority that they have withdrawn the products and they are no longer on the shelves in Norway."

Horsemeat is rarely consumed in Norway.

German officials in NRW state said an examination of documents had indicated that products had been delivered via a distributor in Luxembourg "which are suspected of horsemeat labelling breaches".

They said in a written statement that they believed deliveries had taken place between November and January.

However as a precautionary measure, the German supermarket chain Kaiser's Tengelmann has taken its own branded frozen lasagne off the shelves.

European Union farm ministers are due to hold crisis talks in Brussels later to agree a response after France became the second EU nation following Britain to find horsemeat posing as beef in frozen food.

The horsemeat scandal erupted last month when the meat was found in ready meals labelled as beef products in Ireland. Last week horsemeat was found in frozen beef lasagne in Britain.

AFP