French horsemeat scandal firm says government too quick to point finger

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February 15, 2013 7:28 PM EST

The president of French meat-processing company Spanghero said on Friday the government had been too quick to accuse it of knowingly selling horsemeat labeled as beef, and said he would prove the firm's innocence.

Consumer Affairs Minister Benoit Hamon on Thursday released details of an investigation into the firm which he said indicated Spanghero as the likely culprit in the horsemeat scandal that has enraged consumers across Europe and implicated traders and abattoirs from Cyprus to Romania.

"I don't know who is behind this, but I can tell you it's not us. I'm astonished," Spanghero boss Barthelemy Aguerre told Europe 1 radio. "I think we will prove our innocence and that of my associate. I think the government has been too quick."

The French probe into how horsemeat got into ready meals sold across Europe found that the Spanghero firm labelled meat as beef when it knew what it was processing may have been horse, Hamon said.

(Reporting By John Irish; Editing by Jon Boyle)

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