The UK’s Food Standards Agency (FSA) has ordered all British companies to test their beef products after it found beef lasagne from Findus contained up to 100% horse meat.
The FSA has given food businesses until next Friday (February 15) to submit the results of tests for the presence of significant levels of horse meat in all beef products, including beef burgers, meatballs and lasagne. The agency said it had tested 18 Findus beef products and found 11 contained between 60% and 100% horse meat.
Findus recalled its beef lasagne earlier this week after its French supplier, Comigel, raised concerns about the type of meat used.
Chief executive of the FSA Catherine Brown has called the situation ‘appalling’ and said the FSA was working with authorities across Europe to test the authenticity of beef products.
‘Robust response’ required from industry
Brown said in a statement: “Following our investigations into Findus products, the FSA is now requiring a more robust response from the food industry in order to demonstrate that the food it sells and serves is what it says it is on the label. We are demanding that food businesses conduct authenticity tests on all beef products, such as beef burgers, meatballs and lasagne, and provide the results to the FSA.”
Testing protocol is available online here . The FSA said the test results would also be made publically available “to provide a clearer picture of standards in the food chain”.
Fraudulent activity ‘highly likely’
Brown told the BBC: "This is an appalling situation. I have to say that the two cases of gross contamination that we see here indicate that it is highly likely there has been criminal and fraudulent activity involved.”
She added that the test results could lead to enforcement actions, if appropriate.
“It is the responsibility of industry to have systems in place to make absolutely sure that what they are selling it what it says on the packet,” she said.
The FSA said it would publish the results from its analysis of beef products, including brand names, and the full analysis of results would be available by April 2013.