Nestle pulls meals in Italy, Spain as horsemeat scandal grows

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Nestle pulls meals in Italy, Spain as horsemeat scandal grow
Paris, Feb 19 (AFP) Swiss giant Nestle has become the latest food company hit by Europe's horsemeat scandal, announcing it is removing two pasta meals from supermarket shelves in Italy and Spain due to contamination.

The news came yesterday as German discount chain Lidl pulled ready-made meals from the shelves of its Finnish, Danish and Swedish stores as it also confirmed the presence of horsemeat. Meanwhile, the French firm that sparked the Europe-wide food alert, by allegedly passing off 750 tonnes of horsemeat as beef, was allowed to resume production of minced meat, sausages and ready-to-eat meals.

But Spanghero, whose horsemeat found its way into 4.5 million "beef" products sold across Europe, will no longer be allowed to stock frozen meat, France's Agriculture Minister Stephane Le Foll told AFP. Nestle, the world's biggest food company, said in a statement that "our tests have found traces of horse DNA in two products."

"The mislabeling of products means they fail to meet the very high standards consumers expect from us," it added. Therefore the company is "voluntarily removing" two chilled pasta products, Buitoni Beef Ravioli and Beef Tortellini from sale in Italy and Spain immediately. A Nestle frozen meat product for catering businesses, produced in France, will also be withdrawn from sale. Nestle apologised to consumers while assuring that "actions being taken to deal with this issue will result in higher standards and enhanced traceability."

Earlier yesterday German discount chain Lidl pulled ready-made meals from the shelves of its Finnish, Danish and Swedish stores after tests confirmed the presence of horsemeat. Lidl said last week it had found traces of horse in beef goulash and a tortellini bolognese product sold by its Austrian subsidiary.

Concerns about horsemeat first emerged in mid-January when Irish authorities found traces of horse in beefburgers made by firms in Ireland and Britain and sold in supermarket chains including Tesco and Aldi. The scandal then intensified when French firm Comigel alerted Findus this month to the presence of horsemeat in the meals it had made for the food giant and which were on sale in Britain.

Since then, supermarket chains have removed millions of "beef" products as tests are carried out to detect horsemeat, which is eaten in many European countries but is considered taboo in Britain.

PTI

Read more about: nestle
Story first published: Tuesday, February 19, 2013, 14:09 [IST]
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