Nestlé dragged into horse meat controversy

By Joe Whitworth

- Last updated on GMT

Horse meat scandal continues in Europe
Horse meat scandal continues in Europe
Nestlé has become the latest company to be dragged in to the horse meat scandal with the firm recalling two products due to traces of horse DNA.

The firm removed two chilled pasta items, Buitoni Beef Ravioli​ and Beef Tortellini,​ from sale in Italy and Spain, which were supplied by German-based company, H.J. Schypke.

Nestlé said the levels found are above the 1% threshold the UK's Food Safety Agency (FSA) uses to indicate likely adulteration or gross negligence so they informed the authorities.  

“We are now suspending deliveries of all our finished products produced using beef supplied by a German firm, H.J. Schypke, a subcontractor of one of our suppliers, JBS Toledo N.V.”

Tests after withdrawal

Lasagnes à la Bolognaise Gourmandes​, a frozen meat product for catering businesses by Nestlé Professional produced in France will also be withdrawn from sale, said the firm.

“We are also enhancing our existing comprehensive quality assurance programme by adding new tests on beef for horse DNA prior to production in Europe.

“We want to apologise to consumers and reassure them that the actions being taken to deal with this issue will result in higher standards and enhanced traceablity.”

When reports first emerged in the UK about the fraudulent mislabeling of beef, product and raw material testing was enhanced across Europe, added the company.

Shorter supply chain

Speaking after a meeting with retailers yesterday, Richard Lochhead, Scotland's Cabinet Secretary for Rural Affairs, said: "I highlighted that in my view there is an absolute need for supply chains to be shorter and easier to track and for high quality local produce to be used whenever possible.

"What was very clear was that everyone in the room wants to resolve this issue as quickly as possible so that consumers regain the confidence and trust they have always had in Scottish and UK food providers.

"As testing continues it is reassuring that the vast majority of tests being carried out are negative for horse meat. However we cannot be complacent and a precautionary approach will continue to be taken."

“Wholly unacceptable”

Following the FSA’s publication of the first set of industry results from tests of beef products for the presence of horse DNA, Environment Secretary Owen Paterson said it was “wholly unacceptable​” that if people buy products marked beef, they turn out to be horse meat.

“It’s wholly unacceptable that if people buy products marked beef, they turn out to be horsemeat. That’s why it was so important to undertake this intensive testing activity to gain a meaningful picture.

“Food businesses now have a lot of work to do. They need to move quickly to complete these tests and they need to show their customers they’ve taken the right steps to make sure this doesn’t happen again.”

BfR and Evira involvement

Meanwhile, Germany’s Federal Institute for Risk Assessment (BfR) said it was “not yet possible​” to say whether products in the country are contaminated with phenylbutazone residue in any samples of horse meat.

Testing products to ensure that they can safely be sold is the responsibility of the federal state authorities in charge of food control,“ ​said the agency.  

The Finnish Food Safety Authority, Evira, is preparing to carry out spot checks for horse meat to establish whether or not products labelled as beef contain horse.

As part of an EU meeting yesterday, the agency said it would conduct DNA analysis spot checks on 50 samples and 10 samples to see if horse meat to contains phenylbutazone as drug residues.

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