“In my opinion, horses shouldn’t even be on any menu, to those that own horses as pleasure horses, they are our pets just as much as dogs or cats; therefore they should be given the same rights as pets….you wouldn’t eat your puppy or cat (unless you lived in Asia perhaps) Thank Christ I am vegetarian, virtually vegan! But if I did eat animals this would be something that would turn my stomach & make me go vegetarian…I couldn’t possibly eat any in case one of my friends is in it!!” 

‘Business as usual’ at plant watchdog said had been shut

A British factory accused of turning horses into burgers and kebabs continued to operate yesterday despite official claims it had been shut down.

The discovery concerning Farmbox Meats, based near Aberystwyth, was further evidence of the shambles surrounding the handling of the scandal.

Farmbox Meats Ltd business owner Dafydd Raw-Rees, pictured yesterday in Llandre near Aberystwyth, west Wales

On Tuesday, the Government’s Food Standards Agency announced that Farmbox Meats and a slaughterhouse in Yorkshire, which had allegedly supplied horse carcasses, had been closed.

The abattoir is owned and run by Peter Boddy of Todmorden, who has a licence to shoot and slaughter unwanted or injured racehorses.

The FSA issued a categorical statement, saying: ‘The FSA has suspended operations at both these plants.’ 
It went on to declare that it and the police had ‘detained all meat found and seized paperwork, including customer lists from the two companies’.

However, yesterday morning the owner of the Farmbox factory insisted it was ‘business as usual’ and accused the FSA of being ‘untruthful’. Staff wearing hair nets were busy de- boning and cutting horse carcasses ready for export to Belgium.

Outside the plant stood large blue crates of meat of unspecified origin, with no evidence of FSA officials or the police on the site. It is housed in an anonymous-looking white-walled concrete building down a narrow country lane in the Ceredigion hills.

The factory is owned by local businessman Dafydd Raw-Rees, 64, a former turkey farmer who is president-elect of the local golf club. He was arrested in 2002 over an alleged offence of supplying meat from illegally slaughtered livestock but was never charged.

The manager of the Farmbox plant, Colin Patterson, was tried at Swansea Crown Court and later acquitted.

In a separate case, his co-defendant Carmello Gale was in 2004 jailed for six months for running an illegal abattoir near Llandysul, West Wales.

Andrew Rhodes, director of operations at the FSA, said its raid on Tuesday established that ‘horse meat had been used as though it were beef in kebabs and burgers at that premises’.

But last night Mr Raw-Rees said that while the plant did handle horse carcasses, it did not process any meat and hadn’t passed it off as beef.

Denying he had been ordered to suspend production, Mr Raw-Rees said he had only begun de-boning horse meat supplied from Ireland three weeks ago.“Only 3 weeks ago, bit suspicious??”

‘It is taken from here to Belgium and I get paid for doing the cutting up,’ he said. ‘I don’t do kebab meat, minced meat or beef burgers. There is absolutely no cross contamination.’

Mr Raw-Rees claimed he had only had three deliveries of cattle from the Todmorden slaughterhouse. 

Locals described Mr Raw-Rees as a ‘colourful character’ who had told them work at the plantwhich employs 14 people – had ‘taken off’ after it started handling horse meat.

Later the FSA said: ‘All meat on site was detained yesterday. This morning we confirmed in writing their licence to operate is suspended.

Government accused of ‘catastrophic complacency’

Published on 14 Feb 2013

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