France said on Thursday it would suspend the licence of meat processing company Spanghero for knowingly selling horse meat as beef in a widening European scandal, dpa reported.
Spanghero, based in south-west France, had supplied ready-meal maker Comigel with horse meat from Romania, which was then used in frozen lasagne and other dishes, said the government.
French Agriculture Minister Stephane Le Foll said the firm's meat handling license would be temporarily suspended. Spanghero has denied receiving invoices for horse meat.
Benoit Hamon, junior minister for consumer goods, accused the company of "economic deception."
The Le Parisien daily had earlier published a copy of an invoice dated January 4 that appeared to show a Cypriot trading company, Draap, billing Spanghero for horse meat from Romania.
The invoice was for 18.5 tons of meat with the number 0205 0080 - the international code for frozen horse meat - said the paper.
The scandal has revealed a complex web in Europe of meat industry suppliers, producers and distributors, also involving companies in Luxembourg, Ireland, Cyprus and the Netherlands.
Britain said on Thursday that scientists suspected that some of the horse meat sold as beef in Europe may have contained traces of a drug used to treat sick horses.
Agriculture Minister David Heath said the painkiller phenylbutazone, commonly known as "bute," was found in eight of 206 horse carcasses tested in Britain.
There were fears that, of these, six may have entered the food chain in France, Heath said.
Catherine Brown, head of Britain's Food Standards Agency, said the carcasses tested were just a sample and that bute might have entered the food chain unnoticed "for some time."
The FSA had tested just 5 per cent of carcasses, of which 6 per cent had tested positive for bute.
However, a British medical officer, Sally Davies, said that, although the drug was linked to side effects in humans who took it, the risk from such faint traces was very low.
"If you ate 100-per-cent horse burgers of 250 grams, you would have to eat, in one day, more than 500 or 600 to get to a human dose," she said.
The scandal, meanwhile, widened in Germany when supermarket chain Edeka discovered "small amounts" of horse meat in its own brand of frozen beef lasagne and withdrew it from sale.
The previous day, another chain, Real, recalled an own-brand frozen lasagne for the same reason.
German frozen foods manufacturer Eismann halted sales of a lasagne, and a refrigerated warehouse was sealed in Lower Saxony state, pending testing in both cases.
The horse meat scandal has been centred on the mislabelling of meat products rather than food safety fears about horse meat.
Europeans knowingly consume about 110,000 tons of horse meat a year, of which 70,000 tons are slaughtered within the European Union, mostly in Italy, Poland and Romania.