The French meat company accused by the government of knowingly selling horsemeat labelled as beef is to fight the allegation.
French Consumer Affairs Minister Benoit Hamon said Spanghero could not have failed to notice the imported horsemeat was cheaper than beef.
Christophe Giry, Spanghero’s marketing manager, protested: “We delivered beef, sold beef and bought beef. Of course, we may have missed a few things and we’re willing to take responsibility, but to withdraw a license and kill a business. It’s a little bit disproportionate, don’t you think?”
The company set up by the brothers of a former French rugby captain has had its operating licence suspended for 10 days and if suspicions are confirmed legal action will follow.
The company has accused the government of being too quick to point the finger.
The company’s founder, Laurent Spanghero, said: “We were bosses for 40 years. We did a lot. Stupidity has destroyed our work. My brothers battled in the world’s great stadiums. What will our kids and grandchildren think tomorrow when they are on the street? People will say, ‘He’s a Spanghero!’ Do you realise what is happening to our family?”
The scandal, which has seen mass recalls of ready meals erupted last month when tests in Ireland uncovered horsemeat in beef products.