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100% horsemeat found in lasagnes

08 February 2013

The public’s concern over horsemeat in food will not be alleviated following research by the Food Standards Agency that revealed Findus beef lasagnes have been found to contain up to 100% horsemeat. 

According to the FSA, it is ‘highly likely’ that criminal activity is to blame for the contamination and consumers have been warned not to eat the meals. Food companies will now be ordered to test beef products.

Findus UK tested 18 of its beef lasagne products and found 11 contained in the range of 60% to 100% horse meat, the FSA said. The frozen food company has now apologised to customers and said refunds would be offered to anyone who bought the affected lasagne products, which were made by French food supplier Comigel. Retail giant Tesco and discount chain Aldi have withdrawn a range of ready meals produced by Comigel over fears that they contained contaminated meat.

Catherine Brown, chief executive of the FSA, told BBC News: “This is an appalling situation. 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.”

There is no evidence to suggest the horsemeat found is a food safety risk, the FSA said.
But the agency confirmed tests have been ordered on the lasagne for the veterinary drug phenylbutazone or ‘bute’, which is banned from entering the food chain.

The FSA added: “People who have bought any Findus beef lasagne products are advised not to eat them and return them to the shop they bought them from.”

A Findus UK 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. We would like to take this opportunity to apologise to our customers for any inconvenience caused.”

Findus UK withdrew its 320g, 360g and 500g lasagne meals from supermarket shelves as a precautionary measure earlier this week. The move 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.

The latest development in the contamination crisis comes days after supermarket chain Asda took the precautionary step of withdrawing products supplied by a Northern Ireland company which was storing meat found to contain a high proportion of horse DNA.

Newry-based Freeza Meats had been storing the consignment of meat, which was labelled as beef, on behalf of a supplier in the Irish Republic – Co Monaghan-based meat trader McAdam Foods.

Two tested samples were found to contain 80% horsemeat.

McAdam Foods has insisted it had no knowledge that any of its meat contained horse DNA. It claimed the contaminated produce originated in Poland.

The meat had not entered the food chain and was not destined for Asda stores.
The Irish meat-processing industry has been rocked by the horsemeat crisis, with a number of suppliers being caught up in the scare.

Authorities on both sides of the border have pledged to restore the sector’s battered image, while police in the Irish Republic have launched an investigation.


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