Three arrested in EU investigation into illegal horse meat trade (update)

Three arrested in EU investigation into illegal horse meat trade (update)

Three people have been arrested in the Netherlands and 15 companies raided in a Europe-wide investigation into the sale of illegal horse meat.In particular, attention has been focused on a company in Limburg which is suspected of forging horse passports, allowing horses which were not considered fit for human consumption to end up in the food chain.Horse passports include records of all medicines given to the animals but the Limburg company is said to have supplied documents with all this information removed, the Dutch public prosecution department said.[banner]In total 26 people have been arrested across Europe in connection with the investigation into illegal meat trading. It began in 2012 in Belgium and then spread to the Netherlands, Ireland and France.The gang is thought to have sold at least 4,700 horses which were not considered fit for human consumption to meat processors and traders.Officials also seized €37,000 in cash, more than 800 horse passports, as well as medication, dozens of microchips and computer equipment.  More >

Food firms slow to reduce salt content

Food firms slow to reduce salt content, some food is even saltier Much of the processed food sold in Dutch supermarkets still contains too much salt despite agreements with manufacturers, according to research by consumers association Consumentenbond.Of the 90 products which the Consumentenbond has tested since 2007, 40 still contain the same amount of salt, the organisation said.Some have even become saltier. For example, the Wagner Big Pizza Supreme now has 10% more salt than in 2013 and the makers of Old Amsterdam cheese have increased its salt content by 15%, the Consumentenbond said.[banner]The organisation says the average Dutch person eats nine grammes of salt a day although just one gramme is important for good health and more than six grammes could be dangerous.The organisation wants health minister Edith Schippers to take tougher action to ensure food firms lower the salt content in their products. The agreement signed by her and the industry last year is too full of holes to be effective, it says.  More >

TV pranksters win honour for fake charity

Dutch TV pranksters win king’s honor for fake dachshund charity Pranksters from a Dutch consumer issues television show managed to get themselves awarded an honour in the king's birthday list, for a charity which does not exist.One of the crew even turned up to collect the honour from the mayor of Utrecht in a fake beard, and got away with it.Presenter Jelte Sondij said the team wanted to see how many checks are made when deciding who should be awarded an honour. 'We nominated a real person for an honour, with their agreement,' he told the Telegraaf. 'Then we made up a cv full of charities centred on dachshunds and ecological gardens.'[banner]The nomination also required five references, three of which were from non-exisiting people.'The two who did exist were not phoned or emailed and no-one checked on the projects either,' Sondij told the paper. 'If they had googled them, they would have found out in a couple of minutes it was all nonsense.'Nominations are supposed to be checked by the local mayor, are then sent to the king's commissioner in the province for approval, they then go to a national committee, are approved by a minister and then signed by the king.At the beginning of this month, the team were told that their nominee had been approved and would be made a member of the Order of Oranje Nassau. On Friday, Sondij went to Utrecht city hall to collect the award wearing a fake beard. 'No-one asked me to prove who I was,' he said.Utrecht's mayor Jan van Zanen said in a reaction he regretted the fact that a 'wrongful award' had spoiled 'this special moment'. Sondij has since returned the medal.  More >

Two accused of massive postage fraud

Two Dutchmen accused of massive postage fraud involving forged guilder stamps Guilder stamps were no longer accepted by the Dutch post office from November 2013 because of a massive forgery case, a PostNL spokesman confirmed on Saturday, following a report in the Volkskrant.PostNL declared guilder stamps to be no longer valid 11 years after the introduction of the euro and said at the time this would make the processing of letters and parcels easier.However, the Volkskrant says two men from Limburg had been selling guilder stamps - some of which were forged - to consumers and companies, allowing them to send post much more cheaply.[banner]Justice ministry officials suspect the men of printing the stamps themselves, a charge which they both deny. They claim to have bought them from a third person, without knowing they were forged.The two men, named as Jurgen L (41) and Dimitri W (40), have already been ordered to pay €2.6m compensation to PostNL in a civil case. However, the public prosecution department told the Volkskrant they hope to start a criminal case against the two men and six others before the summer.It is not clear how much money is involved, but at least €2m worth of guilder stamps were used in 2012, the paper says.  More >

Amsterdam rabbi linked to brutal divorces

Amsterdam’s chief rabbi has delegated most of his responsibilities to other rabbis and only remains technically head of the community, Trouw reported at the weekend.Aryeh Ralbag is said to have close ties with an orthodox group in the US which is alleged to use handcuffs and cattle prods to torture a number of men into granting divorces known as a ‘get’. Several rabbis were last week convicted of conspiracy to commit kidnapping and face sentencing in July.Trouw has documents which show Ralbag acted as a rabbinical judge in at least one case in which a man was tied up until he agreed to divorce his wife. Ralbag is not considered a suspect but was called as a witness in the case, Trouw said.[banner]A spokesman for the Amsterdam Jewish community said Ralbag ‘does not have enough time and attention’ for his Amsterdam role. He declined to say if there is a connection with the kidnapping case. ‘One does not rule the other out,’ deputy chairman David Brilleslijper said.Three years ago Ralbag was temporarily suspended by the Dutch community after he signed a controversial document describing homosexuality as an illness which can be cured.  More >