More horsemeat findings possible

SAMPLING OF THE first and second phases of the Food Standards Agency’s UK-wide survey of beef products has been completed and the initial test results published today.


The results show that 212 of the 224 samples taken in phase one are negative for both horse and pig DNA at or above the 1% threshold.


For phase one, two products contain levels of pig DNA above 1%. So far, no products are verified as containing horse DNA at a level above 1%.


However, preliminary tests show that seven samples, representing six different products, may contain horse DNA above 1% and a further three may contain pig DNA above 1%. The FSA said further checks are needed to verify this before any more details are published.


For phase two, one product tested to date contains levels of pig DNA above 1%; none contain horse DNA above this level. Full results of phase two are not yet ready.


The three products that are confirmed as positive for pig DNA above 1% have already been listed on the companies’ websites. They are: ASDA Spaghetti and Meatballs, ASDA Beef Cannelloni and Apetito Beef Lasagne.


Both Asda products have been withdrawn from sale. Apetito has indicated that almost all of its product will have been served. Some 2,720 packs of lasagne were produced and delivered to customers between April 23rd 2012 and June 4th 2012. Chief executive Paul Freeston said: “We believe that almost all of these will, in turn, have been served by our customers. However, should any customer have unused stock, they can, if they so wish, return the product and we will refund them. 


“The lasagne is completely safe to eat but the product should not contain any pork.  We believe that the most likely explanation is accidental cross contamination in our butchery or kitchens. We are investigating this.” 


The FSA sampling survey was designed to be geographically representative of beef products on sale across the UK. It is separate from the industry test results that have been supplied to the FSA by the food industry and announced by the Agency in three waves over recent weeks.


Phase one of the FSA study involved testing mainly burgers, but also beef sausages, meatballs and minced beef. Samples of both frozen and chilled products were taken for testing, with a focus on lower priced value or economy ranges of both brands and own-label.


Phase two was added to the survey in order to ensure a wider range of processed beef products were tested. It included ready meals (frozen, chilled and tinned), of which 140 samples were taken.


Local authorities are investigating each case where a product is suspected of containing horse or pig above 1% and have taken steps to ensure that the product is withdrawn from sale pending confirmation of the test results.