Blaming continental Europe for the horsemeat scandal appeared to backfire on British food chiefs after police raided and closed a slaughterhouse in northern England and a meat processing company in Wales on Tuesday night.
The two firms are suspected of selling horse carcasses which were used in beefburgers and kebabs.
It’s the first time British food suppliers have been implicated in the scandal that has forced beef products off the country’s supermarket shelves.
British Environment Secretary Owen Paterson promised the investigation would be “relentless”.
“It is absolutely shocking that we actually have found this practice happening in the UK – this is the first incident. We will be following it up with the full rigour of investigative powers invested in the Food Standards Agency,” he said.
Earlier, two Romanian slaughterhouses emerged as the alleged source of the horsemeat, sold on to other European food producers.
But one of the firms – Carmolimp – has defended its practices.
“During 2012, our company Carmolimp made three exports of horsemeat to Holland, representing three trucks, in total 60 tons of meat. This meat was sold as horsemeat at a price which clearly indicated that it was horsemeat. Our partner has asked for horse meat and received, with all necessary documents, horse meat,” said General Manager Paul Soneriu.
Ministers from several European countries caught up in the affair are meeting in Brussels today.
The results of UK wide tests on all processed beef products are due to be released on Friday.