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LONDON: Twenty-nine beef products out of 2,501 tested in Britain have been found to contain more than one percent horsemeat, the Food Standards Agency said yesterday.
FSA Chief Executive Catherine Brown said: “The overwhelming majority of beef products in this country do not contain horse. The examples we have had are totally unacceptable, but they are the exceptions.”
All of the 29 products containing horsemeat have already been withdrawn from sale, she added.
These include lasagne and spaghetti bolognese sold by Aldi supermarkets, burgers sold by Co-op stores, and burgers and spaghetti bolognese sold by Britain’s leading supermarket chain Tesco.
Beef lasagne made by the frozen foods giant Findus, as well as burgers for the catering industry produced by Irish firm Rangeland, were also on the list.
Brown stressed that the results were “still far from the full picture” and that testing continued on other products. Hotel group Whitbread yesterday became the latest company in Britain to admit horse DNA had been found in its food, saying two of its products — meat lasagnes and beefburgers — had been affected.
The president of French meat processor Spanghero promised yesterday to disprove allegations that his firm knowingly sold horsemeat labelled as beef, and accused the government of being too quick to point the finger.
In a widening scandal involving horsemeat in ready meals sold across Europe, Dutch inspectors began taking samples to discover whether shipments contained a drug given to some horses that is banned for animals intended for human consumption.
French Consumer Affairs Minister Benoit Hamon released details of an investigation into Spanghero which he said indicated the firm was the likely culprit in a scandal that has enraged consumers across the continent and implicated traders and abattoirs from Cyprus to Romania.
“I don’t know who is behind this, but I can tell you it’s not us. I’m astonished,” Spanghero boss Barthelemy Aguerre told Europe 1 radio. “I think we will prove our innocence and that of my associates. I think the government has been too quick.”
The French inquiry found that Spanghero labelled meat as beef when it knew what it was processing may have been horse.
Hamon said Spanghero could not have failed to notice the meat it was importing was much cheaper than beef, and there was no indication that a Romanian firm supplying the meat had mislabelled what was in fact horse.