A Dutch court has jailed meat wholesaler Willy Selten for two-and-a-half years for selling horse meat passed off as beef during Europe's massive 2013 meat scandal.

"As boss of two companies he [Selten] was guilty of forging invoices, labels and written declarations and using these forged documents to trade meat," the court in Den Bosch said in its judgment.

Prosecutors in court papers said they have found 33 examples of false accounts, including at least one statement where meat was processed as "100 percent beef" when in actual fact it contained beef and horse.

In other instances, receipts were made up for meat deliveries that were never made, the papers showed.

Selten, 45, was arrested in May 2013 for allegedly selling 300 tonnes of horse meat labelled as beef during one of Europe's biggest food scandals.

Dutch prosecutors suspected Selten of major involvement in the continent-wide consumer outrage, prompting recalls of meat products from Ireland to Greece.

The horse meat scandal first erupted in Ireland and in Britain in January 2013, when it was found that frozen burgers supplied to several supermarkets including major retailer Tesco contained horse DNA.

Meatballs at Ikea stores, sausages in Russia and frozen burgers in Britain were pulled from the shelves by the millions as a result.

Dutch food and consumer watchdog the NVWA arrested Selten on charges of "false accounting and fraud" after a widespread probe in the Netherlands.

The NVWA then asked hundreds of companies across Europe supplied by Selten, who imported the horse meat from Ireland and Britain, to check their products.

Prosecutors said the horse meat was processed as beef at the company's headquarters in Oss.

In April 2013, Selten failed to quash a massive order by the NVWA recalling 50,000 tonnes of potentially contaminated horse meat that had passed through his plant.

Selten protested his innocence in an interview denying he deliberately passed off horse-contaminated beef.

"Beef cuts and horse cuts were stored in the freezer with the same article number," Selten told the Dutch ANP press agency.

"I forgot to give them different numbers and it's wrong what happened. Of course we should have exercised better control," he said.

Thousands of DNA tests on European beef products after the scandal revealed extensive food fraud across the European Union, with almost one 20 meals marked as beef likely to be tainted with horse.