Two men have been jailed for their roles in a conspiracy to pass off horsemeat as beef.
Andronicos Sideras, 55, and Ulrik Nielsen, 58, were jailed at Inner London Crown Court for four years and six months and three years and six months respectively.
The pair were found guilty of a conspiracy to sell 30 tonnes of horsemeat as beef, most of which entered the food chain.
Sideras, one of the owners of meat manufacturer Dinos & Sons, mixed the products together before selling the meat to other firms.
Nielsen, the Danish owner of FlexiFoods, bought horsemeat and beef from suppliers across Europe and had it delivered to Dinos in Tottenham, north London.
Nielsen’s “right-hand man”, Alex Beech, 44, arranged for the shipments to be transferred and handled the accounting.
The majority of the meat, including some from farm horses not sold for slaughter, made it into the food chain and, while the face value of the fraud was £177,869, police said the true cost had probably run into millions of pounds.
Sideras, of Southgate, north London, was found guilty of one count of conspiracy to defraud between January 1 and November 30 2012.
Nielsen and Beech, who had already pleaded guilty to the same charge, were sentenced to three years and six months in jail and 18 months suspended for 12 months respectively.
Judge Owen Davies QC said: “It was not confined to this country, not confined to the firms we have heard about, and it’s a big issue for the public to be concerned about, but the fact is it was discovered by accident and only emerged as a problem because of your activity.
“It’s not a mitigating factor, in my judgement, that other people were at it as well as you.”
Speaking to the defendants, who had their heads bowed throughout, Judge Davies said: “It’s difficult to recall now the conditions that made this horsemeat scandal headline news every day five years ago but it made an impact on the public in general.
“They were suspicious of the food that they had – it extended far beyond meat.
“The confidence in the food chain was affected adversely and the share prices of big supermarkets was affected and it is difficult to recreate the feeling of anxiety that the public had at the time this all emerged.
“It was not an activity that was brought to an end by anything other than the arrest of the perpetrators.
“The victims in question, properly so-called, of conspiracy to defraud were customers, either wholesalers or the customers of the…