Business

Tuesday 30 September 2014

‘Beef’ lasagne made of 100pc horse meat pulled from Irish shelves only two days ago

Fiona Hynes and Cormac Murphy

Published 08/02/2013 | 11:51

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Testing on Findus beef lasagne has revealed that some of the ready meals may have contained up to 100% horse meat, the Food Standards Agency (FSA) said

THE Findus lasagne meals containing up to 100pc horse meat were on sale in Ireland up to two days ago.

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The Food Safety Authority of Ireland (FSAI), which confirmed the findings today, said it is trying to establish which retailers supplied the product to consumers.

There is also a worrying possibility that the ready meals contained a drug which is a known health risk.

Shoppers who bought the lasagnes, made by French food supplier Comigel on behalf of Findus, have been warned not to eat them.

Supermarket chain Tesco withdrew the meals from its shelves in Ireland on Wednesday but “did not notify the FSAI”, a spokeswoman said.

In a statement, the FSAI confirmed Findus beef lasagne products “identified in the UK which tested positive for up to 100pc horse meat have been on sale in Ireland”.

It added: “The FSAI has been in contact with Findus since last night to establish which retailers had been supplied this product.

“Tesco withdrew this product from Irish shelves on Wednesday of this week, but did not notify the FSAI.

“The FSAI is contacting the retail trade today to ensure this product is withdrawn from sale.

“The FSAI is advising Irish consumers to check if they have purchased this product and if they have, not to eat it, but to return it to the point of purchase.”

Findus withdrew the product in the UK following information from Comigel that there was a problem with the meat content.

FSAI chief executive Prof Alan Reilly said it is not known at the moment if these products pose a food safety risk as tests have not been undertaken in the UK to establish if the veterinary medicine phenylbutazone is present in the product.

He said: “It is our understanding that Findus is testing the products for the presence of phenylbutazone.

“Phenylbutazone is a commonly used medicine in horses and horses treated with it are not allowed to enter the food chain. Our advice to consumers at this point, is not to consume this product, but to dispose of it or return it to their retailer.”

The FSAI said full compliance with food law is needed across the entire supply chain at all times and called on food companies to be vigilant about the authenticity of ingredients used.

Testing on Findus beef lasagne revealed some of the ready meals contained only horsemeat, the Food Standards Agency (FSA) in the UK confirmed last night.

This is the first confirmed instance of a non-beef burger product being contaminated.

A full recall of the suspect products is already under way.

The company tested 18 of its beef lasagne products which found 11 meals containing 60pc to 100pc horsemeat, the FSA in the UK has stated.

The FSA said there is no evidence to suggest the horsemeat found is a food safety risk.

However, the agency has ordered urgent tests on the lasagne for the veterinary drug phenylbutazone.

Meat from animals treated with “bute” is not allowed to enter the food chain, as it may pose a risk to human health.

An FSA statement said: “As part of its ongoing investigation into mislabelled meat, the Food Standards Agency has confirmed that the meat content of beef lasagne products recalled by Findus has tested positive for more than 60pc horsemeat.”

All food companies have been told to test their beef products by the FSA.

Retail giant Tesco and discount chain Aldi have already withdrawn a range of ready meals produced by Comigel over fears they contained contaminated meat.

Findus UK has already started a full recall of its lasagne products.

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

The recall 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 from their shelves.

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