Food giant Nestlé has been drawn into the horse-meat contamination scandal in Europe, announcing the withdrawal of two adulterated products from retailers.
The two chilled pasta products, Buitoni Beef Ravioli and Beef Tortellini, were being withdrawn from sale in Italy and Spain immediately, the company said.
It said levels found were above the 1 per cent threshold that Britain’s Food Safety Agency used to indicate likely adulteration or gross negligence.
“We have informed the authorities accordingly,” Nestlé, the world’s biggest food company, said.
“There is no food safety issue, but the mislabeling of products means they fail to meet the very high standards consumers expect from us.”
The two products were made from beef supplied by German firm H.J. Schypke, a subcontractor of one of Nestlé’s suppliers, JBS Toledo N.V.
“We are now suspending deliveries of all our finished products produced using beef supplied by … H.J. Schypke.”
Nestlé said the two products withdrawn from Spain and Italy will be replaced with product confirmed by DNA testing to be made from 100 per cent beef.
Lasagnes à la Bolognaise Gourmandes, a frozen meat product for catering businesses by Nestlé Professional, produced in France, will also be withdrawn from sale and replaced with product made from 100 per cent beef.
Nestlé, based in Vevey, Switzerland, said it had boosted the testing of its products and the raw materials it used across Europe after the horse-meat revelations emerged in Britain and Ireland.
“We are also enhancing our existing comprehensive quality assurance programme by adding new tests on beef for horse DNA prior to production in Europe,” it said.
“We want to apologise to consumers and reassure them that the actions being taken to deal with this issue will result in higher standards and enhanced traceability.”
H.J. Schypke said in a statement that it had never knowingly procured horse meat.
“We regret this incident and will intensify our efforts to provide the highest quality products. As a result, we will conduct genetic tests on all raw incoming meat in future.”
Agencies across Europe are continuing their inquiries into the meat contamination, which has resulted in the withdrawal of tens of millions of products from 13 countries. Some products have been found to contain up to 100 per cent horse meat instead of beef.
Britain’s Food Standards Agency announced today that it had has expanded its UK-wide survey of food authenticity in processed meat products being carried out through local authorities.
The survey, expanded to ensure that a wider range of products were sampled, would include a total of 514 products.
The sampling for the first two phases will be carried out by 28 local authorities and will include beef-based foods that are sold pre-packed, or ‘loose’ (for example, cafe sandwiches).
Sampling for the third phase will be allocated to other local authorities across Britain.
Results of 2500 tests conducted by the food industry were released last Friday, with 29 revealing more than 1 per cent horse meat. Those products had already been identified by authorities in the course of their inquiries.
About 950 further test resulted are awaited.
Environment Secretary Owen Paterson said this week that further test results would be released this Friday, and any remaining results the following Friday. After that, food businesses will update the FSA on their tests results every three months.
“I welcome the food businesses’ commitment to testing their products. They all assured me that they will not rest until they have established the full picture,” Paterson said.
“There is still much to be done to find out exactly how this happened and how it can be prevented from happening again, and to do everything possible to reassure consumers about the food on our shelves.”