HORSEMEAT: FSA second test results largely negative

By Michelle Russell | 25 February 2013

The results included an additional 1,133 results

The results included an additional 1,133 results

The UK's Food Standards Agency has released a second set of test results from the industry revealing 99% of products sampled proved negative for traces of horse DNA.

The FSA's results, published Friday afternoon (22 February), confirmed 35 results, representing 13 products, contained horse DNA at or above the 1% threshold. In total, the agency undertook 3,634 tests.

The results included an additional 1,133 results, since the first set of industry results was announced on 15 February. The FSA had said last week it was doubling its testing of meat products to include beef-based foods sold pre-packed, or loose, such as cafe sandwiches.

The products have already been named and withdrawn from sale, it said.

In its update today, the agency said no tests to date on samples containing horse DNA have found the veterinary medicine phenylbutazone (bute).

"The overwhelming majority of results, over 99%, have come back negative for the presence of horse DNA above the threshold of 1% - which is reassuring for consumers," said FSA chief executive Catherine Brown.

"However, our work is far from done. The sampling programme being carried out by local authorities on behalf of the FSA is already well under way and we expect to report the initial findings from that work in early March."

Sampling for the first two phases was being carried out by 28 local authorities, with a third phase to be allocated to "other local authorities" across the UK, it said.

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 this phase today.

The presence of horsemeat in products on sale in the UK emerged in January after tests by food safety officials in Ireland.

Results of tests carried out by retailers issued last week did, in the main, clear the country's supermarkets.

Products from Tesco, Sainsbury's, Morrisons, The Co-operative Group and Iceland Foods tested negative for traces of horsemeat in the first tests for horse DNA carried out on own-brand beef products.

The FSA said on Friday that retailers have informed the agency that they have completed around 90% of tests, with manufacturers, caterers and wholesalers having completed around 80%.

Aldi issued a statement last week to say it has completed horse DNA tests that show negative results across its range of minced beef and ready meal products, and has committed to regular DNA testing to ensure its meat content conforms to specification and labelling.

The Co-operative Group also said it had completed its independent testing, which have proven negative for horse DNA in all of its own-brand minced beef products.

Sectors: Food safety, Meat & poultry

Companies: European Commission, The Co-operative Group, Tesco, Sainsbury’s, Morrisons, Iceland Foods, Aldi

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