LONDON, March 23 (Reuters) - The owner and manager of a slaughterhouse in northern England were sentenced to fines and a suspended jail term on Monday in the first criminal prosecution related to a horsemeat scandal that embarrassed British supermarkets in 2013.
The slaughterhouse in the town of Todmorden was inspected by a food safety official at the height of the scandal, in which horsemeat was found in food products that were labelled as containing beef, outraging consumers.
"Documents produced for this inspection were intended to deceive the inspector and the lack of proper records meant that the source and destination of the horsemeat was untraceable," specialist prosecutor Kevin Hansford said in a statement.
The slaughterhouse owner, Peter Boddy, was fined 8,000 pounds ($11,900) and ordered to pay another 10,442 pounds in legal costs after being convicted of failing to keep adequate records allowing the provenance of meat to be traced.
The manager, David Moss, received a four-month prison sentence, suspended for two years, and was ordered to pay costs of 10,442 pounds, after being convicted of falsifying an invoice.
"This deception is serious. The absence of proper records means that it is not possible to identify whether the horsemeat may have entered the human food chain," Hansford said.
The horsemeat scandal began in January 2013 when Irish food inspectors said they had found horsemeat in frozen beefburgers being sold by several British supermarket chains.
The scandal then escalated and spread to several other European countries and a number of products were recalled. (Reporting by Estelle Shirbon; editing by Stephen Addison)
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