Horsemeat: Compass and Whitbread find horse DNA in products


Catherine Brown, FSA chief executive, says "it is unlikely we will ever know" how many unwittingly ate horsemeat

Catering giant Compass Group and Whitbread, one of Britain's largest hotel chains, have found horse DNA in products sold as beef, it has emerged.

Horsemeat has also been found in cottage pies supplied to 47 schools in Lancashire - they have been withdrawn.

But the Food Standards Agency says that after 2,501 fresh tests no new products have been identified as containing more than 1% horsemeat.

It said the 29 positive results were on seven previously withdrawn products.

FSA chief executive Catherine Brown said she remained "confident" that the testing was the right way to address the issue.

"It is industry's responsibility to get this right - not the government's - and we consider that a comprehensive testing programme at all points of the supply chain and in all sectors is an essential step in addressing this issue.

"And as this programme of testing and publishing results continues, and as action is taken to tackle this issue in supply chains across Europe, we will reach the point where we can say with confidence that horse meat is no longer illegally entering the UK food chain."

'Shocked and dismayed'

What is meat?

  • To be labelled as meat, a product needs to conform to a European Commission standard.
  • Meat is restricted to skeletal muscle with naturally included fat and connective tissue.
  • Any fat or connective tissue in excess of the limits set out cannot be counted towards the meat content.
  • The maximum limits are:
  • Pork: 30% fat, 25% connective tissue.
  • Birds and rabbits: 15% fat, 10% connective tissue
  • All other red meat (including beef): 25% fat, 25% connective issue.
  • Mechanically recovered meat cannot be counted towards the meat content.
  • The legally required minimum meat that must be included in beefburgers in the UK is 62%, or 47% for economy beefburgers

Source: Defra

Compass Group, one of the biggest school food providers in the UK, says its tests have found between 5% and 30% horse DNA in burgers it sold in Ireland and Northern Ireland.

It says the burgers were supplied by Rangeland Foods in County Monaghan, which previously withdrew more than 9,000 burgers made for the UK market after some were found to contain horsemeat.

Compass said the Rangeland burgers had been supplied to 13 sites in the Irish Republic and 27 in Northern Ireland, mostly offices but including two unnamed secondary schools.

It described the situation as "totally unacceptable" and said all affected sites had been given "unreserved apologies".

And Whitbread, which owns Premier Inn, Beefeater Grill and Brewers Fayre, says it found horse DNA in two products - burgers supplied by food supplier Paragon Quality Foods and lasagne from Brakes Brothers.

Creative Foods, owned by Brakes Brothers, and which caters for schools and hospitals in the UK, had used frozen beef mince for lasagne from Hampshire-based supplier Pinnacle Foods, some of which has now been found to contain horse DNA.

Creative says it has now stopped using Pinnacle Foods as a supplier, and Brakes is also recalling one of its own-brand lasagne products as a precaution.

Pinnacle's managing director Graham Reed said this development was "a complete surprise and shock to us".

He added: "We are devastated by the news, and working very hard to trace back where the offending material may have come from.

"We have never ever knowingly had equine material on our premises or indeed ever dealt in horsemeat. We will be working very closely with FSA and customers alike to get to the bottom of it."

Environment Secretary Owen Paterson told the BBC he expected the food industry to have completed their horsemeat tests by the end of next week.

He said it was for the industry to "get out there and reassure the public".

Environment Secretary Owen Paterson: "Food companies must get their systems sorted out"

Asked about the retailers' response to the crisis, he said that was "for the food businesses themselves to decide, they are responsible for the quality and integrity of what they present to the public", before adding that it was not for him to "micro-manage" food businesses.

But Labour's Mary Creagh said the public would be "shocked and dismayed that horsemeat has now been found in schools and hospitals" and called for the prime minister to order the FSA to speed up its testing.

In other developments:

'Fresh beef'

A group of 11 food suppliers, including Tesco and Asda, issued a letter on Friday stating they shared shoppers' "anger and outrage" and rejecting government criticism they "remained silent" over the crisis.

The letter was signed by chief executive of Tesco, Philip Clarke, Asda Stores boss, Andy Clarke, the chief executive of J Sainsbury, Justin King, and Dalton Philips, chief executive of Wm Morrison Supermarkets, among others. Several also released the results of their tests.

Safety issues

  • The Food Standards Agency (FSA) has demanded food businesses to check for horsemeat in all processed beef products, such as burgers, meatballs and lasagne. The first set of results are expected on Friday
  • There is concern that some horses are given a drug called bute (phenylbutazone), which can be dangerous to humans
  • In rare cases bute causes a serious blood disorder known as aplastic anaemia, where the body does not make enough new blood cells
  • Meat from animals treated with phenylbutazone are not allowed to enter the food chain for this reason
  • The Food Standards Agency ordered Findus to test its beef lasagne that contains horsemeat for bute, but no traces were found

Iceland said that all of its own brand beef products have been found to be free from horsemeat.

The Co-Operative Group said 59 of its 102 own-brand minced beef products have been tested so far, with all found to be clear of horsemeat. And Morrisons says 68 test results on its products have not found horsemeat, with more results still to come.

Tesco says tests on 149 of its products are clear, and Sainsbury's say their tests show no horse adulteration. Waitrose says it has conducted about 40 tests, none of which showed the presence of horsemeat.

Last month, Irish food inspectors said they had found horsemeat in beefburgers made by firms in the Irish Republic and the UK, and sold by a number of UK supermarket chains, including Tesco, Iceland, Aldi and Lidl.

Since then, a growing number of UK retailers have recalled processed beef products found to contain horse DNA.

Some shops have already recalled products found to be adulterated, including Asda, which withdrew a beef Bolognese sauce on Thursday - the first fresh beef product to be involved.

Aldi, Tesco and Findus have also withdrawn some beef-based ready meals.


French food producer makes order

Comigel HQ in Metz, north-east France, asks its subsidiary, Tavola in Luxembourg, to make food products - including beef lasagne for Findus.

Factory orders meat

The Tavola factory orders the meat from Spanghero in the south of France.

Subcontractor used

Spanghero contacts a subcontractor in Cyprus to source the meat.

Subcontractor enlists trader

The Cypriot subcontractor in turn contacts a trader in the Netherlands.

Trader orders from Romania

The trader in the Netherlands places an order for meat with abattoirs in Romania.

Abattoirs send meat to France

The meat from the abattoirs travels to Spanghero in France. However, Romania rejects claims that it was responsible for wrongly describing the horsemeat from its abattoirs as beef. Horsemeat is always labelled as such, they say. The Romanian authorities claim records show orders had been for horse carcass - easily distinguishable from beef.

Meat used to make products

Spanghero sends the meat to the Comigel subsidiary’s factory in Luxembourg before the finished products are supplied to Findus and retailers across Europe, including the UK. The president of Comigel says the company was unaware the meat was coming from abroad.

Horsemeat found in Ireland and UK

Tests by Irish authorities have found equine DNA in beefburgers made by firms in the Irish Republic and the UK. Traces of horsemeat have also been found in stored meat at another plant in Ireland and one in Northern Ireland. In mainland Britain, police and officials probing alleged horsemeat mislabelling have carried out raids at a slaughterhouse in West Yorkshire and a meat firm near Aberystwyth. Three men were later arrested on suspicion of offences under the Fraud Act..


More on This Story

Horsemeat scandal

The BBC is not responsible for the content of external Internet sites


This entry is now closed for comments

Jump to comments pagination
  • rate this

    Comment number 67.

    What you get when the global god is money and profit before all else.
    Mirrors what is happening in all realms of society.

  • rate this

    Comment number 66.

    It may be the responsibility of the supply chain but the Government and FSA are the police judge and jury.

    I think something more than "it is an isolated incident", " there is no need for ALARM" etc. is the kind of response I would be happy with.

    This supply chain is clearly not secure and or safe

  • Comment number 65.

    All this user's posts have been removed.Why?

  • rate this

    Comment number 64.

    A difficulty in language translation meant that the Romanians misunderstood the concept & content of a bookmaker sandwich...

  • rate this

    Comment number 63.

    I have no problem with eating horsemeat which, like venison, is low in fat, but I do object to the mislabelling which is in effect the criminal offence of "applying a trade description that is false to a material degree" under the Trade Descriptions Act 1968.

  • rate this

    Comment number 62.

    Govt inc the EU is just as responsible for this fiasco .. The Tripartite Agreement, laughable Horse Passport "system" and removal of inspectors form abattoirs and Local Authority cuts meaning Trading Standards Inspectors are cut are all factors.. just as much as the criminals involved.

  • rate this

    Comment number 61.

    "..there is no outcry about halal meat being inflicted unkowingly upon adults and school children..this barbaric ritual slaughter belongs in medieval times"

    We must not be tricked into eating Horse, Halal,etc.
    At the company I work for, the canteen introduced Halal meat with no warning and no consultation. the Halal chicken in particular had a distinctly different taste.

  • rate this

    Comment number 60.

    Did'nt the BSE scandal break under a Tory government too?

    Tories. You dont know what you're doing. Again.

  • rate this

    Comment number 59.

    What is going on at the BBC?

    This is virtually the same story as the one earlier in the day with a different headline and the old HYS abandoned.

    What is the agenda?

  • rate this

    Comment number 58.

    When the Gurkhas were stationed in Hongkong,we were serve with mule rum in the evening in the Gallipoli Barracks.

  • rate this

    Comment number 57.

    "Tesco says tests on 149 of its products are clear"

    That wording makes it sound like more were tested, but only 149 are clear. If it was 149 out of 149 I'm sure they would have said 'tests on ALL 149' are clear.

  • rate this

    Comment number 56.

    Test your products, you know its called Quality Control. Simply saying sorry Mate we did not know what was in the product is like going to a car dealer and him not even checking to see if the car is safe and what it is advertised as. Why are Supermarkets allowed to simply play dumb when they should be checking all their products, the liability is theirs and they should face any action.

  • rate this

    Comment number 55.

    The additives and preseratives in ready made meals will do you a lot more damage than horse meat ever could.

    I wont even mention what goes into kebab meat

  • rate this

    Comment number 54.

    1. You get what you pay for - cheap meals, cheap ingredients.
    2. If the labels hadn't said 100% beef, would there be a legal problem?
    3. Can the Media PLEASE stop calling it "contaminated" meat, unless it actually contains any harmful chemicals.
    4. Does anyone test for growth hormones and antibiotics in meat these days, or has that gone?
    5. Anyone want to buy shares in Linda McCartneys and Quorn?

  • rate this

    Comment number 53.

    After BSE we were feed (as it were) the line that all these new regulations would be introduced so we could trace which blade of grass Daisy the cow nibbled on and this sort of thing could never happen again.

    Well, it’s happened again – so what exactly was learnt from BSE ? Nothing it would seem.

  • rate this

    Comment number 52.

    As I understand it, they are only testing for horse. That presumably means they could be missing a host of things such as disease, drugs or other animal? Much has been said about going to a local butcher. a) where would I find one of those? Most were driven out of business by the supermarkets years ago, and b) can I be sure that any meat I buy is fit to eat?

  • rate this

    Comment number 51.

    Self-righteousness abounds as always. My wife and I both work full time yet we manage to cook I'd say 9 out of 10 evening meals from fresh. Two or three times a month though due to time pressure we buy a ready meal. We've a right to expect it to contain what the ingredients say it does.

  • rate this

    Comment number 50.

    No supermarkets prosecuted yet for selling these fraudlent products.

    Yet corners shops selling fake spirits get prosecuted quickly enough, but then the government are missing out on a lot of tax on that.

  • rate this

    Comment number 49.

    Poor horses!

    In Wales & other hilly parts of UK, the farmers keep or don't keep properly, horses up on the mountain pastures. Not fed and made to live on whatever they can find, these equines are considered as free harvest, a thin profit, then driven down to the meat markets.

    The French in particular love this UK horse meat, buying up most of the stock. Serving up big steaks on their plates!

  • rate this

    Comment number 48.

    I think it is fair to say the Government have got as good a handle on this as they have on the economy

    They just guess where this is going next and get it totally wrong

    At no point so far have these fools got any idea how to deal with this and what action to take to bring it under control


Page 36 of 39


More UK stories



Try our new site and tell us what you think. Learn more
Take me there

Copyright © 2015 BBC. The BBC is not responsible for the content of external sites. Read more.

This page is best viewed in an up-to-date web browser with style sheets (CSS) enabled. While you will be able to view the content of this page in your current browser, you will not be able to get the full visual experience. Please consider upgrading your browser software or enabling style sheets (CSS) if you are able to do so.