Horse DNA in Birds Eye ready meals
A package of Birds Eye Beef Lasagne 400g is displayed in the freezer of a convenience store in London. Photograph: Luke MacGregor/Reuters
Birds Eye is withdrawing three beef ready meals from sale in Ireland and the UK.
Tests carried out by the company found 2 per cent horse DNA in a chilli con carne dish sold in Belgium.
Its spaghetti bolognese, shepherd’s pie and lasagne, which are made by the same manufacturer, Frigilunch NV in the Netherlands, are being withdrawn “as a precautionary measure”.
A statement from Iglo Foods Group, the parent company of Birds Eye, said the presence of horse meat in their products was “not a food safety issue”, but was “clearly unacceptable”.
“The withdrawn products will not be replaced on supermarkets shelves until we have finished our investigations and have complete confidence in this supplier,” it said.
Customers who purchased any of the withdrawn products can apply for a refund by calling their customer care line on 1850 298 398.
Their beef burgers, beef pies and beef platters have also been tested, but do not contain horse DNA, the statement said.
The company confirmed that a new ongoing DNA testing programme has been introduced, and “normal quality assurance procedures” have been “enhanced”.
“We know that our consumers rely on us to be certain that they are eating only what is labelled on the packaging and that they can always rely on us to act responsibly,” they said.
Yesterday, thousands of beef burgers made by the Burger Manufacturing Company in Powys, Wales, were withdrawn from the UK market after three of nine samples ordered by the Food Standards Agency tested positive for at least 1 per cent horse meat.
It also emerged yesterday that Russia is considering suspending meat imports from European Union countries because of the horse meat scandal.
Gennady Onishchenko, Russia’s chief sanitary official, told Ekho Moskvy radio that he had sent a letter to the European Commission requesting a guarantee that meat products sold to Russia did not contain horse meat.