Major catering firm pulls products
One of the world’s biggest catering companies has withdrawn frozen beef products from its menus in Britain after the discovery of horse DNA.
Giant French-based firm Sodexo had said “repeated guarantees” were forthcoming from suppliers.
However, a spokesperson for the company’s operations in Ireland and Northern Ireland last night said the ban would not be enforced in either jurisdiction.
“No trace of horse DNA has been found in other countries but we remain vigilant,” said a Sodexo representative, who refused to identify the country of origin of the suspected meat.
The ban will affect the 2,300 operations in Britain, including schools, hospitals and prisons run by Sodexo which has benefited hugely from contracting of services by state-run bodies.
“We demanded written assurances from across our supply chain that the products we purchased did not contain horse meat, and additionally implemented an internal sampling programme. Despite repeated guarantees from our suppliers, our sampling has identified frozen beef products which tested positive for equine DNA.
“This situation is totally unacceptable. We felt the only appropriate response was to withdraw not only this product but all frozen beef products. We will only readmit into our catering operations products that have affirmatively passed DNA testing, pursuant to laboratory test criteria,” said the company.
Sodexo serves visitors to numerous sporting events and venues. And the latest discovery came just hours after the Food Standards Agency in Britain revealed that 3,599 tests have now been carried out on food products – with 35 found to have more than 1 per cent horse meat.
Retailers have conducted tests on 90 per cent of every meat product they sell, while manufacturers, caterers and wholesalers have completed 80 per cent, it said.
However, Labour MP Mary Creagh criticised the time the tests are taking. She said caterers must “speed up their tests” and reveal the extent of the scandal.
“It is deeply worrying that it has taken Sodexo, who supply schools, hospitals and the armed forces, several weeks to test for and discover horse in its beef products.”