HORSEMEAT: Birds Eye pulls ready meals on positive test

By Michelle Russell | 22 February 2013

Birds Eye said the product that tested negative was only sold in Belgium

Birds Eye said the product that tested negative was only sold in Belgium

Birds Eye has pulled three beef ready meals from supermarkets in the UK and Ireland as a precaution after a product it sells in Belgium tested positive for horse DNA.

The company said today (22 February) its 340g Traditional Spaghetti Bolognese, 400g Shepherd's Pie and 400g Beef Lasagne had been recalled.

The recalls followed a positive test for a chilli con carne sold and produced in Belgium, the Iglo Group-owned firm said. The product was made by Belgian company Frigilunch.

A spokesperson for Birds Eye told just-food that the chilli con carne was only sold in Belgium and the only one to test positive for horsemeat.

However, Frigilunch also made the spaghetti bolognese, shepherd's pie and lasagne. The spokeperson said Birds Eye had taken the precautionary measure of removing all products produced by Frigilunch from shelves.

"We want to reassure you from the testing we have completed that all Birds Eye Beef Burgers, Beef Pies and Traditional Beef Dinners do not contain horse DNA," the company statement said. "In accordance with our high standards, we are immediately withdrawing this product from sale in Belgium."

The spokesperson said the company has tested all its products since the horsemeat contamination scare began.

Birds Eye is the latest major manufacturer to be hit by the contamination after France-based Findus and Swiss food giant Nestle. What had started in the UK and Ireland has since spread to Europe and this week Asia, with products this week being withdrawn in supermarkets in Hong Kong.

The news also comes as the Food Standards Agency prepares to announce results of the industry's latest tests into processed beef products.

Last Friday, the FSA published results from the first batch of industry tests. It said 29 out of 2,501 products tested positive for horse DNA above 1%.

This week, the FSA said it would double its own testing of meat products. It is undertaking an ongoing survey of 224 samples of minced beef products including burgers, minced beef, beef sausage and meat balls to check for horse and pork DNA. Two further phases will take the total number of products sampled to 514.

The second phase, which began last Thursday, is testing 140 samples of beef-based ready-meals and are due to be complete today. The third test phase, which comprises 150 samples, will be taken as part of a European Commission survey and will include products - yet to be decided by the FSA - labelled as "containing beef as a major ingredient". Test are expected to begin on 25 February.

Sectors: Food safety, Frozen, Meat & poultry

Companies: Iglo Group, Findus, Nestle, European Commission

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