'Absolutely no horse meat' in stock cubes or gravies, insist manufacturers

Wed, Feb 20, 2013, 00:00

Manufacturers of beef stock cubes and gravies have moved to reassure customers about the authenticity of their products in the wake of the horse meat scandal.

Unilever, which produces Knorr stock cubes, gravies and sauces, said it had been given assurances by its suppliers of meat raw materials that they were in compliance with relevant food legislation.

“Although there is no reason to believe that there is any cause for concern, we have nevertheless conducted an extensive verification and testing exercise with our suppliers,” a spokeswoman for Unilever Ireland said. “This comprehensive review into our supply chain has confirmed that there is absolutely no horse meat present in any of our products sold in the UK or Ireland.”

Premier Foods, which produces Oxo stock cubes and Bisto gravies, said it did not take ingredients from any companies named as suppliers in the recent horse meat incidents.

“We control our meat supply through stringent controls including traceability, supplier approvals and robust auditing of those suppliers, to ensure that any meat used in our products is not adulterated or contaminated with other species and conforms to agreed specifications,” a spokesman said. The company had nevertheless tested all its products containing beef, at its science laboratories. “We can confirm no horse meat has been found in the products that we have tested.”

The Food Safety Authority of Ireland said it had no evidence that beef stock cubes or gravy mixes were implicated in the horse meat scandal.

The UK’s Food Standards Agency said last night it was beginning testing next week on products marketed or labelled as containing beef as a major ingredient. They included gelatine, beef dripping, stock cubes, steak, stewing steak and ready meals.

“DNA testing of foods is very sensitive, so the presence of horse DNA can be picked up at very low levels,” a spokeswoman for the UK agency said.