Nestle pulls meals as horsemeat scandal grows

WHERE’S THE BEEF?:The firm found horsemeat in two products for sale in Italy and Spain. Lidl earlier pulled products from Finland, Denmark, Sweden and Belgium


Wed, Feb 20, 2013 - Page 15

Swiss giant Nestle has become the latest food company hit by Europe’s horsemeat scandal, withdrawing two types of pasta meal from supermarket shelves in Italy and Spain due to contamination. The news came on Monday as German discount chain Lidl pulled ready-made meals from the shelves of its Finnish, Danish, Swedish and Belgian stores as it also confirmed the presence of horsemeat.

Meanwhile, the French firm that sparked the Europe-wide food alert by allegedly passing off 750 tonnes of horsemeat as beef was allowed to resume production of minced meat, sausages and ready-to-eat meals.

However, Spanghero, whose horsemeat found its way into 4.5 million “beef” products sold across Europe, will no longer be allowed to stock frozen meat, French Minister of Agriculture Stephane Le Foll said.

Nestle, the world’s biggest food company, said in a statement that “our tests have found traces of horse DNA in two products,” while assuring that there was no public health risk.

“The mislabeling of products means they fail to meet the very high standards consumers expect from us,” it added.

Therefore, the company is “voluntarily removing” two chilled pasta products, Buitoni Beef Ravioli and Beef Tortellini, from sale in Italy and Spain immediately.

Nestle announced it was also suspending deliveries of all products using beef supplied by German firm HJ Schypke, a subcontractor of JBS Toledo.

A Nestle frozen meat product for catering businesses, produced in France, will also be withdrawn from sale.

Nestle apologized to consumers while assuring that “actions being taken to deal with this issue will result in higher standards and enhanced traceability.”

Earlier on Monday, German discount chain Lidl pulled ready-made meals from the shelves of its Finnish, Danish, Swedish and Belgian stores after tests confirmed the presence of horsemeat.

Lidl said last week it had found traces of horse in beef goulash and a tortellini bolognese product sold by its Austrian subsidiary.

Concerns about horsemeat first emerged in the middle of last month, when Irish authorities found traces of horse in beefburgers made by firms in Ireland and Britain and sold in supermarket chains, including Tesco and Aldi.

The scandal then intensified when French firm Comigel alerted Findus this month to the presence of horsemeat in the meals it had made for the food giant and which were on sale in Britain.

Since then, supermarket chains have removed millions of “beef” products as tests are carried out to detect horsemeat, which is eaten in many European countries, but is taboo in Britain and others.

Horsemeat had already been confirmed in products found in Britain, Ireland, France, Austria, Norway, the Netherlands and Germany.