• By The Financial District

Brazil Gang Sells Horse Meat Passed Off As Beef

A gang of six accused of stealing horses for slaughter and selling the meat to restaurants disguised as beef has been arrested in southern Brazil, according to officials, Anusha Rathi and Jonny Hallam reported for CNN.

Photo Insert: 'Horse'-d'œuvre ala Brazilian gang

A statement from the Public Ministry of Rio Grande do Sul (MPRS) on Thursday said the gang distributed more than 800 kilograms (1,763 pounds) of hidden horse meat per week to restaurants in the Caxias do Sul region.

Up to 60% of restaurants in the area with beef on the menu had unwittingly bought horse meat from the gang disguised in steaks and hamburgers, public health officials said.

Inspectors also discovered other forms of spoiled meat -- including rotting pork, turkey, and leftover food from pig-feeding establishments -- were mixed inside the hamburgers, according to the statement. Officials said an investigation was launched two months ago after the local Agricultural Defense Inspectorate raised the alarm.

Forensic tests carried out in restaurants selling hamburgers in Caxias do Sul confirmed the presence of horse DNA in the food, according to prosecutor Alcindo Bastos, who coordinated the operation.

All the news: Business man in suit and tie smiling and reading a newspaper near the financial district.

The six people arrested are also accused of running an illegal abattoir with poor hygiene, unsanitary conditions, and without the authorization to process or sell any kind of meat.

The case echoes a 2013 food scandal, in which authorities across Europe discovered widespread use of horse meat in products labeled as beef.

Health & lifestyle: Woman running and exercising over a bridge near the financial district.

Many meat-eaters in the United Kingdom -- where horse meat is generally considered taboo -- were revolted by the revelations.

A further discovery that year of pig DNA in beef products was of particular concern to Jews and Muslims, whose dietary laws forbid eating pork.

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