No guarantee Findus lasagne safe to eat

 

The Food Safety Authority of Ireland (FSAI) has said it cannot rule out the risk that people who ate Findus lasagnes made with horse meat were not exposed to harmful chemicals, as it ordered a recall of the products from Irish shops.

The horse meat controversy spread yesterday to two more EU countries. Findus in Sweden was forced to recall thousands of frozen “beef” lasagnes produced in Luxembourg by French processor Comigel after tests showed they were also made with horse meat.

Earlier this week Tesco and Aldi pulled from their shelves as “a precautionary measure” a range of Comigel products, including Findus lasagne.

The range of products contaminated with horse meat continues to grow.

Aldi issued a statement last night saying it had also withdrawn its Today’s Special Frozen Spaghetti Bolognese from the shelves “as a precautionary measure” after an alert from Comigel.

Tests found its lasagne and bolognese products contained between 30 and 100 per cent horse meat, which was “completely unacceptable”, Aldi said.

Comigel blamed one of its suppliers for the problem. “We have identified the supplier responsible,” the company said in a statement, adding that it had “withdrawn all products linked to this supplier”.

The authority yesterday warned consumers not to eat frozen lasagnes carrying the Findus label.

‘Bute’

The British Food Safety Authority has ordered the company to test the contaminated stock for the commonly used equine veterinary medicine phenylbutazone, or “bute”, which is banned from the food chain. The FSAI’s chief executive, Prof Alan Reilly, said that until those test results were known, the potential health risk to consumers was unclear.

He said the best advice to consumers was “not to consume this product, but to dispose of it or return it to their retailer”.

It emerged yesterday that affected lasagne may have been contaminated with horse meat since last summer. British Labour Party MP Tom Watson said he had seen a letter from Findus to retailers, sent earlier this week, warning that Comigel had said raw materials delivered since last August were “likely to be non-conform and consequently the labelling on finished products is incorrect”.

Tesco was among the retailers to get the letter and it withdrew products produced at the French site. It did not, however, inform the FSAI that it was withdrawing the product.

Prof Reilly expressed disappointment that the largest retailer in the Republic had not been more forthcoming about the product recall. In response Tesco Ireland said it had withdrawn the products as “a precautionary measure”. It insisted that there was “no intentional delay in informing the FSAI, as this is not required under agreed protocols”.

‘Appalling’

Catherine Brown, head of the FSA in Britain, said the latest evidence of contamination of beef products was an “appalling situation” and the new cases suggested it was “highly likely there has been criminal and fraudulent activity involved”.