Tesco confirms further horsemeat discovery
Defra minister Owen Paterson is calling a second emergency food summit as Tesco confirms its Everyday Value Spaghetti Bolognese has been found to contain up to 60% horsemeat.
The product was withdrawn from sale last week, and is reported to have been made at the same French factory as the Findus beef lasagne.
Meanwhile, UK environment secretary Owen Paterson, speaking to the House of Commons, said the UK government is taking urgent action together with the Food Standards Agency (FSA), food industry and the EC to address the horsemeat-in-beef scandal.
Placing responsibility with retailers and processors to ensure consumers are not misled over the content of food products, Paterson said the situation appeared to be one of criminal activity through fraud and mislabelling. However, if evidence came to light suggesting further measures were required to monitor the meat industry in the UK, the government would not hesitate to do so.
He is now due to meet once again with the Food Standards Agency (FSA), supermarkets, and suppliers, his second meeting with the sector in just days.
Responsibility for the horsemeat scandal remains elusive, with Romanian Prime Minister Victor Ponta the latest to refute claims the contaminated meat products originated in his jurisdiction.
Paterson is expected to meet with his French, Irish and Romanian counterparts later this week, along with representatives from the EC, to tackle what has now been identified as a criminal conspiracy across Europe.
French ministers are reported to be holding crisis talks with meat industry representatives this week, as the horsemeat-contaminated beef scandal spreads to up to 16 countries.
Following an investigation over the weekend, after French authorities identified two abattoirs near Bucharest as the possible source of the contaminated beef, Ponta claimed there had been no breach of meat regulations.
Certification was said to be in place at the two plants, one of which processes horsemeat and the other both beef and horsemeat, and both sites denied any direct contract with French processor Comigel. Further, orders leaving the plants for export had been exclusively horsemeat.
Comigel supplied the beef lasagne meals found to contain up to 100% horsemeat to Findus, which has announced it will take legal action against the fraud this week.
A paper trail for the contaminated meat led back to Romania via Luxembourg, Cyprus, Holland and France.
Findus UK recalled its frozen beef lasagne, while seven French supermarket chains have withdrawn frozen beef meals made by Findus and Comigel.
The latest cases follow last month’s detection of horsemeat in burgers labelled as beef retailed at Tesco, Iceland and Lidl, and linked to suppliers in the Republic of Ireland, England, Sweden and Poland.
Meanwhile, the first round of results are expected later this week after the FSA ordered checks for horsemeat in all beef products, including beef burgers, meatballs and lasagne.
Horsemeat illicitly included in processed products labelled as beef may not have been tested for bute (phenylbutazone), a drug given to horses which can be dangerous for humans. Findus has been ordered to test its beef lasagne for the drug.
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