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Horsemeat has also been found in cottage pies supplied to 47 schools in Lancashire - they have been withdrawn.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It said the 29 positive results were on seven previously withdrawn products.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 507.

    If the Government has CUT nearly 700 inspectors.....and we rely on supermarkets to 'police' themselves......WHO CHECKS MY LOCAL KEBAB/BURGER BAR?

  • rate this

    Comment number 506.

    If David Cameron is really concerned about our health then perhaps they could start serving supermarket ready meals at all Tory Party functions. Sort of quality control.

  • rate this

    Comment number 505.


    So you don't have a local butcher? And who do you think is to blame - I'll bet you had one before the supermarkets came to town?

  • rate this

    Comment number 504.

    Another FSA that is a total waste of space

  • rate this

    Comment number 503.

    475. mike
    These people should be shot.

    UH Mike - - - NOOOOO!!!!!

    They might land up in the food chain too..............

  • rate this

    Comment number 502.

    Has John Gummer, "GumGum", eaten through his life time supply of them yet?

  • rate this

    Comment number 501.

    sanbag; Ah, the glorious call of the self-rightious whingebag veggie! Are we to assume that you are of a higher evolutionary standpoint because you don't eat meat? Sounds like your only vegetarian so you can inflate your ego by insinuating that there is something inherently wrong with eating meat, which of course is ridiculous. Stop moralising and get off your high-horse so I can eat it!

  • rate this

    Comment number 500.

    What surprises me is the people I have come across who did not realise we had such a profitsble trade in horsemeat and how are food is generaly sauced from within the EU It makes me laugh when I hear of people saying I only eat British Beef It has most probably come from a British cow farmed in Rumania

  • rate this

    Comment number 499.

    The criteria for these tests seem to have changed , No horsemeat is not the same as no equine DNA

  • rate this

    Comment number 498.

    The answer to this fiasco is a little conservative entrepreneurship, how about a free lucky horse shoe in each ready-meal? You know like the toys in cereal boxes, i'm sure that'l assuage public anger, problem solved!

    @494Denbo, Not if it gave them blood disorders.

  • rate this

    Comment number 497.

    "This is not the Beef you are looking for ....."

    "Move along, move along ....."

    The Beef industry is using the old Jedi Mind Trick on you ! Beware.

  • rate this

    Comment number 496.

    Dave’s plan of getting the supermarkets to take the blame today for this horse meat fiasco has back fired somewhat and in fact lays in tatters as it is reported that this rubbish meat is being served in Schools and pubs both of which are not under the control of the supermarkets Its the nasty party trying to blame everyone but themselves next it will be Labours fault
    Get it sorted now please

  • rate this

    Comment number 495.

    People have obviously been eating horsemeat unknowingly for a while now without noticing a flavour problem and without feeling unwell so why all the fuss. Personally I don't care if it's horse or beef provided it tastes good and if it's cheaper then horse is fine.

  • rate this

    Comment number 494.

    I`m sure the starving millions in the world would be grateful to receive the food being withdrawn(destroyed) because of our "concern"!

  • rate this

    Comment number 493.

    The search for ever-cheaper food, EU-wide corruption & sleaze, poor judgement by consumers, & an ineffective oversight system have all contributed to this.

    This scandal surely goes wider than horse meat - heavens knows what else has been mislabelled in the food chain.

  • rate this

    Comment number 492.

    Only today the doctor told me I needed to watch what I eat, so I'm off to Ascot tomorrow!

  • rate this

    Comment number 491.


    A Store Card, Credit Card or Debit Card only proves that you bought a product. It does not prove that the product you bought was anything other than what it said on the packet.

    Try one of the No Win No Fee Solicitors, I doubt they will touch you with a barge pole on this one! If they wont touch it you have no chance whatsoever.

  • rate this

    Comment number 490.

    In the last 9 months my 9 year old son has developed a blood condition where his body doesnt make enough red blood cells no im worried this had something to do with it

  • rate this

    Comment number 489.

    There's only 3 things you need in life... shelter, water and food. Everything else is aspiration and why do so many people prefer to spend their dosh on holidays, expensive clothes, Sky TV, modern white goods. And that's at EVERY income level. But spend on food? No no everyone wants a bargain. Cheap cheap cheap. You've got the food you deserve peeps. You want quality? Pay for it.

  • rate this

    Comment number 488.

    I'm vegetarian but if the food chain is corrupted widely why are they only testing for horse? Surely this should sound alarm bells for all contaminants/substitutions. I have no faith in the food industry or the current response.

    Have a rapidly increasing list of offending companies and/or those who are buck passing and spinning which I am boycotting from now on.


Page 14 of 39


More UK stories



BBC © 2014 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.