The UK’s horsemeat in food scandal took a new twist last night as a government body, Britain’s Food Standards Agency, the FSA, reported that tests on Findus brand frozen beef lasagne ready meals showed they may have contained 100 per cent horsemeat.
The frozen readymeal products were made under contract for Findus, one of the leading frozen food brands in the UK, by French food supplier Comigel. UK shoppers have been warned not to eat the lasagne.
The reports of 100% horse lasagne come three weeks after Digital Journal first reported on horsemeat having been found in beefburgers sold by UK supermarket giant Tesco and will do little to bolster the confidence of UK shoppers that processed meat products are fit for human consumption.
The FSA reported that Findus had carried out testing of a sample of 18 of its beef lasagne products and discovered that 11 meals contained between 60 percent and 100 percent horsemeat. The FSA added there is no evidence to suggest the horsemeat found in the ready meals constitutes a food safety risk.
One concern relates to the veterinary drug phenylbutazone. Colloquially known as ‘bute,’ there is a prohibition on animals treated with the drug entering the food chain.
The FSA say ‘bute’ is not allowed in the food chain because in humans it can cause a rare blood disorder, aplastic anaemia, although the FSA assess the risk to human health as ‘very low’.
The FSA said in a statement,
“As part of its ongoing investigation into mislabelled meat, the Food Standards Agency has confirmed that the meat content of beef lasagne products recalled by Findus has tested positive for more than 60% horse meat.
“Findus withdrew the beef lasagne products after its French supplier, Comigel, raised concerns about the type of meat used in the lasagne.
“We have no evidence to suggest that this is a food safety risk. However, the FSA has ordered Findus to test the lasagne for the veterinary drug phenylbutazone, or ’bute’. Animals treated with phenylbutazone are not allowed to enter the food chain as it may pose a risk to human health.”
The FSA advised consumers who may have purchased the product in question to return it to the retailer. As a precaution, Findus has now withdrawn all sizes of its lasagne meals from UK supermarket shelves.
The alarm was raised after Comigel had advised Findus and German discount retailer Aldi, which has mini-supermarkets across Europe, that their products “do not conform to specification.” The food producer’s warning related to the Findus range and Aldi’s ‘Today’s Special’ frozen beef lasagne and Today’s frozen spaghetti bolognese.
As a precaution, reports the Daily Telegraph, major UK supermarket chain Tesco, has also withdrawn from sale its Everyday Value spaghetti Bolognese which is sourced from the same Comigel food processing factory.
BBC News channel was reporting today February 8 that the FSA had now ordered urgent tests on all meat products. The opposition Labour party has called for a police investigation suspecting criminal involvement in a trade of sub-standard and/or prohibited meats. The French Ministry of Agriculture has also commented on the issue being one of fraud rather than food purity, with an indication that a criminal investigation may be launched in France.