British authorities on Thursday warned the public not to eat beef lasagna sold by the Findus brand and made in France after tests found it contained up to 100 percent horse meat.
In the latest in a string of food scares in Britain, the Food Standards Agency said that “criminal activity” was likely to blame and ordered further tests on the meat for a veterinary drug.
Findus tested 18 of its beef lasagna products manufactured by supplier Comigel in France and found 11 meals containing 60 percent to 100 percent horse meat, the agency said.
“Findus withdrew the beef lasagne products after its French supplier, Comigel, raised concerns about the type of meat used in the lasagne,” it said in a statement.
The agency said tests on the lasagna were ordered “as part of its ongoing investigation into mislabelled meat.”
“We have no evidence to suggest that this is a food safety risk,” it said.
However, it said it had ordered further tests on the suspect lasagna for the veterinary drug phenylbutazone, as animals treated with it are not allowed to enter the food chain in Britain.
Food Standards Agency chief executive Catherine Brown said it was an “appalling” situation.”
“I have to say that the two cases of gross contamination that we see here indicates that it is highly likely there has been criminal and fraudulent activity involved,” she told BBC news.
“We are demanding that food businesses conduct authenticity tests on all beef products, such as beef burgers, meatballs and lasagna, and provide the results to the FSA,” she said.
“The tests will be for the presence of significant levels of horse meat,” she added.
Findus UK apologized to customers.
“We understand this it is a very sensitive subject for consumers and we would like to reassure you we have reacted immediately. We do not believe this to be a food safety issue,” a spokesman said.
The spokesman added that “fully compliant beef lasagna will be in stores again soon.”
It is the latest horsemeat-related scare after horse DNA was found two weeks ago in beefburgers in Britain and Ireland, countries where horse meat consumption is generally taboo.