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Horse meat found in burgers sold by Tesco, Lidl, Aldi, Iceland

Wednesday January 16th 2013

Investigations have been launched to find out how beef products sold in a number of supermarkets in the UK and Ireland became contaminated with traces of horse meat.

Scientific tests by the Food Safety Authority of Ireland on beef products sold in Tesco, Lidl, Aldi, Iceland and Dunnes Stores found low levels of horse and pig DNA.

Of the 27 products tested by the agency, ten were found to contain horse DNA and 23 pig DNA. In addition, horse meat accounted for approximately 29% of the meat content in one sample from Tesco, which was found to have two frozen beef burger products sold in both the UK and Ireland contaminated with horse DNA.

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The FSAI’s director of consumer protection Raymond Ellard said that a number of investigations would now need to take place.

He said: "The companies have taken a very responsible attitude. On a voluntary basis they have withdrawn products from sale, so have the retailers."

The FSAI added that although there had been no risk to human health as a result of the contamination, it did raise concerns about the traceability of meat ingredients and products entering the food chain. 

Tesco said it had withdrawn from sale all products from the supplier in question after receiving the  test results yesterday. It is also working with the relevant authorities in Ireland and the UK, and with the supplier "to urgently understand how this has happened and how to ensure it does not happen again." 

The retailer said in a statement: "The safety and quality of our food is of the highest importance to Tesco. We will not tolerate any compromise in the quality of the food we sell. The presence of illegal meat in our products is extremely serious.  Our customers have the right to expect that food they buy is produced to the highest standards.

"The relevant authorities have said that these findings pose no risk to public health. We understand that many of our customers will be concerned by this news, and we apologise sincerely for any distress.  Our customer service team is standing by to answer any questions customers may have."

Aldi and Lidl said they had also withdrawn any affected products from their shelves and launched investigations.