Romania’s Prime Minister Victor Ponta (in picture) has urged tougher sanctions for companies that intentionally mislabel food products and said that Romania should learn not to lie down and take the blame for any and all accusations thrown its way.
He said the companies in France and any other culprits in the horse meat scandal should receive harsh penalties, but expressed satisfaction with the speed the European and national authorities have cleared Romania of wrongdoing in the affair.
“When problems arise, we need to check. If we are guilty then of course admit it, but if not, we must be more self confident and forthright in our relations with our European partners. It was a very good lesson,” PM Ponta told reporters yesterday (February 14 ).
He also said the Romanian authorities had acted quickly and effectively and thanked France’s agriculture minister for treating Romania fairly.
Latest reports suggest that one of the French companies involved was aware that it was using horse meat and deliberately mislabeled its products. The company, Spanghero, was very quick to blame Romanian meat suppliers of dishonestly selling horse meat when the news first broke.
The horse meat scandal, which started when routine testing in Ireland found that some products labeled as beef contained horse meat, spread to Britain and France, with Luxembourg, The Netherlands and Romania being implicated in the production, packaging and distribution processes that allegedly led to mislabeled products on the shelves in British and French supermarkets. Each day, the issue appears to spread and beef products have also been found to contain in other European countries, including Germany. “This is impacting on the integrity of the food chain, which is a really significant issue for a lot of countries. Now that we know this is a European problem, we need a European solution,” said Irish farm minister Simon Coveney, quoted by Reuters.