Some beef meals contain 100 per cent horse meat
Testing on Findus beef lasagne has revealed that some of the ready meals may have contained up to 100 per cent horse meat, the Food Standards Agency said yesterday.
And Catherine Brown, chief executive of the FSA, last night said it was almost certain criminal behaviour was to blame for some of the increasing number of horse meat samples being found.
She said: “In order to get to the bottom of this, we’re going to be requiring every company to test every product line. If we find any other cases, we will pursue our investigations vigorously until we find out what’s happened and put a stop to it.”
Ms Brown said it was “highly likely” that criminal activity was to blame for horse meat being found in some meals.
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“This is an appalling situation,” she added.
“I have to say that that the two cases of gross contamination that we see here indicates that it is highly likely there has been criminal and fraudulent activity involved.”
Shoppers who bought the lasagne products, which are made by French food supplier Comigel on behalf of Findus, have been warned not to eat them. Findus tested 18 of its beef lasagne products and found 11 meals containing 60 to 100 per cent horse meat, the FSA said.
Retail giant Tesco and discount chain Aldi withdrew a range of ready meals produced by Comigel over fears that they contained contaminated meat. The FSA said there is no evidence to suggest the horse meat found is a food safety risk.
But the agency confirmed tests have been ordered on the lasagne for the veterinary drug phenylbutazone. Animals treated with “bute” are not allowed to enter the food chain.
Findus UK withdrew its 320g, 360g and 500g lasagne meals from supermarket shelves as a precautionary measure earlier this week.
It came after Comigel alerted Findus and Aldi that their products “do not conform to specification”. It advised them to remove Findus beef lasagne and Aldi’s Today’s Special frozen beef lasagne and Today’s Special frozen spaghetti bolognese. Tesco also decided to withdraw its Everyday Value spaghetti bolognese, which is produced at the same Comigel site.
Findus UK apologised to customers and said anyone who bought the affected lasagne products could get a full refund.
A spokesman said: “We understand this it is a very sensitive subject for consumers and we would like to reassure you we have reacted immediately. We do not believe this to be a food safety issue.
“We are confident that we have fully resolved this supply chain issue. Fully compliant beef lasagne will be in stores again soon.”
The latest development in the contamination crisis comes days after supermarket chain Asda withdrew products supplied by a Northern Ireland company which was storing meat found to contain a high proportion of horse DNA.