SUPERMARKET giant Tesco has become further embroiled in the ongoing horse-meat scandal after admitting it had removed its own-brand spaghetti bolognese from sale for containing equine DNA.
The ready-meals were supposed to contain 100pc Irish beef but were found to contain horse DNA levels exceeding 60pc after the supermarket chain ordered tests.
The company apologised to customers and vowed to no longer buy from a French factory that was supposed to be using 100pc Irish beef in the product.
Tesco's Everyday Value Spaghetti Bolognese was manufactured by the same factory in France – Comigel – that produced the Findus-brand lasagne that was up to 100pc horse meat.
Last night Tesco announced it had withdrawn the spaghetti bolognese from sale last week "as a precaution".
The retailer had the product tested and group technical director Tim Smith confirmed "those tests identified the presence of horse DNA".
It is the second of Tesco's Everyday Value products found to contain horse DNA. Its Irish-manufactured own-brand burgers were among the first products to be identified as contaminated last month.
In a statement, Mr Smith said: "We are very sorry that we have let customers down. We set ourselves high standards and we have had two cases in recent weeks where we have not met those standards.
"Of the positive results, most are at a trace level of less than 1pc but three showed significant levels of horse DNA, exceeding 60pc."
He said further tests for bute – a potentially cancer-causing chemical found in drugs administered to horses – were clear.
According to Mr Smith, its spaghetti product should contain "only Irish beef from our approved suppliers.
"The level of contamination suggests Comigel was not following the appropriate production process," he said.
A Tesco spokesman was unable to say which Irish company was exporting beef to France for use in the spaghetti.
Meanwhile, the Romanian prime minister has reacted angrily to findings by the French that horse meat in Findus lasagne products came from his country, saying "it is very clear" Comigel had no direct contact with Romanian abbatoirs.
According to the French authorities, the horse meat was sourced in Romania through Dutch and Cypriot traders.
Reacting to the French findings Victor Ponta said: "I am angry. From all the data we have, there is no breach of European rules committed by companies from Romania."
A Department of Foreign Affairs spokeswoman here said: "We have no information of mislabelled or contaminated meat from Romania."
The latest revelations come almost a month after the Food Safety Authority of Ireland first discovered beef burgers contaminated with horse meat.
Agriculture Minister Simon Coveney said that he will be asking Irish meat processors to carry out routine DNA testing.
He said: "It was because of the vigilance of our testing and control regime in Ireland that what is now a pan-European problem was exposed."