LONDON – Results from a testing program investigating incidents of horse meat found in the food supply in the United Kingdom will be released by Friday, Feb. 15, the UK Food Standards Agency said.
The announcement comes after Aldi announced its stores in the UK are recalling Today’s Special Frozen Beef Lasagna and Today’s Special Frozen Spaghetti Bolognese after finding horse meat in some samples. Aldi said it tested and found the meat content of some of its beef lasagna products had between 30 percent and 100 percent horse meat. This is in addition to previous findings that Findus frozen beef lasagna contained more than 60 percent horse meat, and Tesco’s frozen beef burgers also tested positive for about 29 percent horse meat.
The initial tests will focus on areas of most concern, but all beef products will be tested as a part of the program, and all results will be reported. The Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs as well as the FSA have demanded more authenticity tests on all processed beef products, including burgers, meatballs and lasagna, and the industry must provide the results to the FSA.
The FSA continues to be the lead investigating authority, and while there is currently no police investigation the FSA and police are working closely in the event police intervention is needed.
“The most recent information regarding Aldi and Findus does suggest gross negligence or possibly criminality, and we are working closely with the French authorities as part of the investigation,” the FSA said. “Europol are also aware of our investigations.”
The FSA said public institutions, including schools, prisons, hospitals and the armed forces are within the UK-wide authenticity sampling program, and suppliers of meat products to these institutions are within that surveillance program. The agency now will have an established industry testing plan with the FSA, undertaking additional verification and validation of authenticity while ensuring the industry takes responsibility for providing assurance to consumers. The agency also said it is reminding public institutions of their responsibility for their own food contracts, and they are to have rigorous procurement procedures in place with reputable suppliers. If institutions are not satisfied with assurance from their suppliers, they should take the appropriate action, the agency said.
Millions of burgers have been removed from sale in the past month following an analysis by the FSA of Ireland, which examined the labeling accuracy of beef products. The investigation escalated after the agency found 10 of 27 beef burger samples contained horse DNA and 23 contained pig DNA.
In collaboration with DEFRA in London, the FSA established a protocol for meat testing.