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Horsemeat has also been found in cottage pies supplied to 47 schools in Lancashire - they have been withdrawn.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It said the 29 positive results were on seven previously withdrawn products.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 747.

    Sounds Like the food processing plants got the idea of putting in horse meat and good knows what else from C.M.O.T Dibbler

  • rate this

    Comment number 746.

    Have you tried M&S sausage rolls mmmmmmmmmmmmmmmm they are the tops so please keep them on the shelves.

  • rate this

    Comment number 745.

    @735. mrsrat

    Can't find anywhere else to post this so- what about M&S?
    Not a peep

    I know loads of suppliers for M&S ... Although historically they have been caught out a few times... they are, and always have been the most stringent Food Quality tester and checker... And have often ploughed the way to improve food standards and labelling... If they have something to say they just do it

  • rate this

    Comment number 744.

    721 i meant in my last post!
    i'm less concened with the drug content of the horses sold into our meat market because apparently most were caught wild, in the depths of poland, apparently free range!
    it was only when they were clobbed with crowbars and half starved to death without water with infection that caused a slight concern.

  • rate this

    Comment number 743.

    It's apparent that some contributors will turn almost any subject into an opportunity to express political or anti supermarket prejudices.This is simply the result of fast buck dishonest opportunists exploiting the growing reality that the proportional spend on food v available discretional income has steadily reduced coinciding with a generation that can't or won't prepare their own food.

  • rate this

    Comment number 742.

    729. I am confused, what is your degree again? Obviously not Politics, Journalism, Media, Economics or even Philosophy. You appear to be rutted in the anti-Tory agenda, ah it has to be Psychology. Incidentally you are not the first or second for that matter. Are you really saying I perceive your actual utterances to be wrong. They are in type not oral, I give up.

  • rate this

    Comment number 741.

    biggest scare of the week - - they found beef in a BigMac !!!!

  • rate this

    Comment number 740.

    Even in French hypermarche there's a pecking order on the display that reflects attitudes to preferring local production. At the front is local produce (French hypermarkets have local buying power), then regional, then national and then at the back foreign produce. But in the UK the consumer demands cheap. Don't blame the supermarket or the government, Mr consumer. Blame yourself.

  • Comment number 739.

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

  • rate this

    Comment number 738.

    has any lamb been tested guessing horse is cheaper than lamb? ALL meat should be tested

  • Comment number 737.

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

  • rate this

    Comment number 736.

    The "Ignorance of content" defence will be used if ever, which I doubt any of the supermarket directors are charged under Food Safety Laws or the Trade Descriptions Act. Too many "low" freinds in "high" places. The smaller villains will face jail sentences, the real crooks will be refunded by their freinds in the Insuarnce & Finance industry and weep crocodile tears.

  • rate this

    Comment number 735.

    Can't find anywhere else to post this so- what about M&S?
    Not a peep

  • rate this

    Comment number 734.

    63. Rundle

    "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."

    Looking forward to seeing those responsible appear at the Old Bailey. The case will start after the Banking trials.

  • rate this

    Comment number 733.

    So who's to say there isnt cat dog or rat ,fox ...else meat in there.just a thought. Best prepare your own meals really you know what's in it . Takes abit of time -might be fun even , if you have a glass of wine + good company.its a skill:-).worth having. Maybe we should think about more veg in meals too. Ready meals are unknown+fatty expensive and designed to render people unskilled in cooking

  • rate this

    Comment number 732.

    722. steve - Exactly that is the real point not the political agenda by the Lab/Con hijackers. If horse meat is in products without declaration then what else is! You are quite right. Personally I would eat Horse meat and venison over so-called beef and yes I would even eat dog. We are meat eaters but each culture has a different choice on what we slaughter. The truth hurts sorry. 730. Frustrating

  • rate this

    Comment number 731.

    It has been really interesting to see all your opinions. In the end the supermarkets are responsible for this so next time you go shopping please exercise your consumer power and demand from the supermarket store manager a clear explanation of the origin of ALL meat sold in his store. I feel the power of the people here, good on you all.

  • rate this

    Comment number 730.

    #723 should know by now that on most forums these days anything bad is the fault of Tories/Thatcher/Daily Mail readers/mickey mouse and anything wonderful is bestowed upon us by Blair/Brown/Balls/Morning Star. Gave up that kind of argument in the 6th form 40 years ago.

  • rate this

    Comment number 729.

    #714 rock
    709. Billythefirst = Hmm going on for decades but in another of your posts it is Daves fault!
    You're so constrained in what you perceive to be thinking....put it in a temporal context and you have Maggie, Little Willy and the marketing man ,Dave....same underlying DNA (all bull), different getting there yet?
    For that matter same goes for business friendly Blur

  • rate this

    Comment number 728.

    Lets face it if tastes good we eat it!!!!!!!!! I am getting a we bit fed up of all the drivel and scaremoungering that is being posted. Cheap food and value meals sell, it is consumer driven, support of your local butcher! To the vegetarians do you know what pesticides are being used on what you eat? Supermarket veg is mass produced and I as a farmers son avod it.


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