A Dutch court has reduced the sentence imposed on a meat trader convicted of selling imported horse meat as halal beef.
Jan Fasen, 63, had earlier been sentenced by a lower court in Breda to 12 months in prison, with three-months of it suspended.
But the Court of Appeal of Den Bosch (South) instead imposed a six month suspended jail term and fined him €50,000.
In explaining its decision, the appeal court said prosecutors had failed to establish that Fasen made extra profits through his actions or that there had been any threat to public safety. He had also acknowledged his wrongdoing.
The meat was sold in 2007 and 2008.
The appeals court agreed with the lower court’s finding that Fasen had bought horse meat from Mexico and Brazil in 2007 and 2008 and then obtained certificates labelling it as halal beef. It was then sold to French companies.
Being labelled Halal, buyers purchasing it would have had the expectation it had been slaughtered according to Islamic requirements.
The case was a portent of the current horse-meat scandal which has involved most member-nations in the European Union.
The discovery of horse meat in processed beef products resulted in the recall of tens of millions of ready-to-eat meals from supermarkets and other retailers.
The scandal has cast a spotlight on the complexities of the food chain, standards, and its vulnerability to rogue traders.