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Horsemeat has also been found in cottage pies supplied to 47 schools in Lancashire - they have been withdrawn.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It said the 29 positive results were on seven previously withdrawn products.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..


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Horsemeat scandal

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  • rate this

    Comment number 427.

    Regarding the subject...they lied!!

    If we all stopped eating meat just think of what would happen. All the beautiful countryside back to nature. The Amazon, Africa lovely.

  • rate this

    Comment number 426.

    Its obviously not just bute but all the other drugs as well that are administered to horses , so if dont know whats human food what on earth is in cat and dog food ?

  • rate this

    Comment number 425.

    @332. Have you ever seen the amount of animal derived fertiliser used in the production of food for you veggies. So by default, most of you, through ignorance consume animal products. Every time I cut in to a tomato I hear it scream!
    Seriously, this is just a case of indignation over the lablelling of food. maybe in future processed food should show 'pink slime' as it's major ingredient:)

  • rate this

    Comment number 424.

    The Lone Gunman
    I've been vegetarian for nearly 20 years. It was one of the best life decisions I've ever made.

    Think about it.....


    18 years here.

    I was an avid meat eater too. Difficult to stop, but I did it for moral reasons. Now the health benefits are a real bonus.

    Eating meat is for the primitive. It's quite funny how primitive it is.

  • rate this

    Comment number 423.

    Do they test for human DNA?
    Or dogs?
    Remember Sweeney Todd.

  • rate this

    Comment number 422.

    Does anyone understand what the numbers of tests the retailers are conducting even mean?? does it mean they have carried out say, 100 batch tests or have they tested 100 individual meals?? cause if so it's like saying we're found no needle DNA in the haystack!!

    How much are they testing?

  • rate this

    Comment number 421.

    And what about the crooks who sell us cereal packets with blueberries and fruit only to find out it doesn't contain any? Instead we're paying for sugar, corn syrup, starch, hydrogenated oil, artificial flavors and dyes—most commonly blue No. 2 and red No. 40.

  • rate this

    Comment number 420.

    I would actually like to know if the selective testing for horse DNA in "beef" products is a coverup for wider issues. If a product is sold as "pork" then I would expect it to have no other meat (lamb/beef/chicken etc) present.

    How do we know that the products don't contain rat or human DNA ?
    Testing should prove what it says on the packaging.

  • rate this

    Comment number 419.

    Despite the fact that it wasn't the consumers' fault, what with the cost of the testing and the lost profits from the products removed from sale, the only thing 100% guaranteed is that we'll end up paying for it with future increased prices.

  • rate this

    Comment number 418.

    I've been vegetarian for nearly 20 years. It was one of the best life decisions I've ever made.

    Think about it.....

  • rate this

    Comment number 417.

    I hear that the European parliament have said "Nay" to bringing back "horse-hair" mattresses. They have said that they want to "whip" everyone back into shape, "jockey" for world no.1 trading position and introduce a "first past the post" voting system!
    Personally, I can't understand all this horsing around!!

  • rate this

    Comment number 416.

    I dont want or accept low-levels of horsemeat of dubious origin in any school meals thank you very much!

    This is disgraceful. If they didnt realise there was horsemeat in it what else don't they know about the product? You CANNOT by definition claim it is SAFE if you don't even know whats in it or where its from.

    Buy British from a reputable butcher who can definitively tell you where its from.

  • rate this

    Comment number 415.

    Considering all the offal that usually goes into a burger I cannot understand the objection to a little bit of horse.

  • rate this

    Comment number 414.

    If they are that blatant and frivolous with such a main and obvious ingredient as mean, just imagine what else they may be getting up to. They should not only be testing for Horse, but getting the full read-out as to what it contains...

  • Comment number 413.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • rate this

    Comment number 412.

    If you buy rubbish, then expect rubbish in the ingredients

    A tip
    For 2 of us, we buy a large pork joint around £9. Cut it into 3 = £3 each, each does 2 meals for 2 people, 1st day hot, 2nd day cold costs 75p each plus theres always some left over
    Do the same with beef, costs bit more but for £12 still get 12 meals or more at £1 each or less
    Do the same with steak, buy good joint & cut it

  • rate this

    Comment number 411.

    There's nothing wrong with eating horse - it's still meat. The problem arises when you call it beef. I wouldn't eat it out of choice, but then I don't eat rabbit out of choice either, although I'm told it's very nice. I really don't understand why people are getting hot under the collar over horsemeat, apart from this mislabelling of it.

  • rate this

    Comment number 410.

    The FSA say '2,501 fresh tests [show] no new products have been identified as containing more than 1% horsemeat.'
    If the huge resources of the FSA were doing their job at all properly there should be 0% horsemeat in any of our products.

  • rate this

    Comment number 409.

    "Seasoning" is dried ground cow hide.

  • rate this

    Comment number 408.

    In this "day and age" not surprising.....but...and a big BUT....absolutely disgraceful! Nothing more, nothing less.


Page 18 of 39


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