French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius has called for an investigation into a growing horsemeat scandal in Europe, and sanctions for those who were selling horsemeat as beef.
Fabius said there are producers who have profited from the food fraud and must be punished. He made his comments to a French broadcaster Sunday as several big French food retailers announced they are recalling lasagna, moussaka and other products that could contain mislabeled meat.
The scandal began earlier this month in Britain when horsemeat was discovered in frozen lasagna meals sold by Swedish-based frozen food giant Findus. The meals were produced by French food company Cogel with meat supplied mostly by French meat processing firm Spanghero.
French Consumer Affairs Minister Benoit Hamon has said the horsemeat initially was traced to Romania with links to French, Dutch, Cypriot and other traders.
He said there will be a wider investigation into possible food industry fraud.
Romanian President Traian Basescu expressed concern Sunday that his country could suffer lasting damage if it is determined that a Romanian company is responsible for mislabeling the meat.
No one has reported health risks from the horsemeat, but the fraud has unsettled consumers across Europe.
Sweden's Findus has said it will file a legal complaint in France against the French meat processor and food producer.
Fabius said the French government will take serious action regarding the fraud.
"Not only do we need an investigation but there will be sanctions. It's terrible! Let's imagine a family talking about this around a table, one would say 'it's disgusting' because consumers are not responsible for this. They buy a product and they are given some old bad meat, if I understood correctly. There are certainly people who make profit out of this. So traceability is needed, and that is what the French government proposes, and he (Benoit Hamon) is right, and we need sanctions, strong sanctions.''