Horse meat has been found in a huge consignment of meatballs served in Ikea stores. The company withdrew the suspected products from outlets in the UK and 12 other countries on Friday without telling consumers why.
Details emerged only after the publication of test results by food watchdogs in the Czech Republic.
The secret withdrawal of the meatballs is typical of the way restaurants and catering companies are dealing with the food scandal.
Thousands recalled, reasons withheld
On Friday, the French-owned caterer Sodexo recalled all its frozen beef mince products from thousands of outlets following the discovery of horse meat. However, the firm, which supplies schools, military bases, hospitals and prisons, has kept vital information about the recall secret.
It is believed other catering firms and restaurant chains are withdrawing a large number of products without telling customers. The attitude of caterers is in contrast to most supermarkets, which have volunteered information on contamination levels and the names of manufacturers.
Ikea’s meatballs are supposed to contain only beef and pork, but Czech Republic watchdogs found evidence of equine DNA. The products are made by the Swedish company, Familjen Dafgard, using meat from Ireland, Sweden and Germany.
Ikea said it did not make an announcement on Friday because it wanted to carry out its own tests, which are continuing.
The company said: ‘We do not tolerate any other ingredients than the ones stipulated in our recipes or specifications. Ikea has immediately issued a sales stop of the batch where indications of horse meat were identified in the Czech Republic and other concerned countries – Slovakia, Hungary, France, UK, Portugal, Italy, Netherlands, Belgium, Spain, Greece, Cyprus and Ireland.’
Ikea’s Swedish meatballs are hugely popular in the UK, with the company selling 60,000 portions every week.
The Government’s watchdog, the Food Standards Agency (FSA), has allowed caterers and restaurants to keep customers in the dark, but Labour’s shadow environment secretary, Mary Creagh, said: ‘It is totally wrong for companies to recall suspect meat products on the quiet without telling the FSA.’
Random checks standard after horse meat appearances
Authorities across Europe have started doing random DNA checks after traces of horse meat turned up in frozen supermarket meals such as burgers and lasagna beginning last month.
The European Union’s agriculture ministers gathered in Brussels today to discuss the widening scandal’s fallout, with some member states pressing for tougher rules to regain consumer confidence.
The 27-nation bloc must agree on binding origin disclosures for food product ingredients, starting with a better labelling of meat products, German agriculture minister Ilse Aigner said.
‘Consumers have every right to the greatest-possible transparency,’ she insisted.
Austria backs the German initiative; but others like Ireland say existing rules are sufficient although Europe-wide controls must be strengthened to address the problem of fraudulent labeling.
By Sean Poulter. Source: Mail Online