Horsemeat Scandal: 'Criminal Activity' Blamed
Criminal activity is "highly likely" to be to blame after some Findus beef lasagnes were found to contain 100% horsemeat.
Consumers have been warned not to eat the meals and the Food Standards Agency (FSA) has ordered all food companies to test their beef products and provide the results by February 15.
Findus has said it was told on Saturday that its French supplier, Comigel, could not guarantee what products were in the lasagnes.
But a letter obtained by Labour MP Tom Watson says the foods may have been contaminated since last summer.
The letter from Findus to retailers warns that Comigel told it that raw materials delivered to it since August 1 last year were "likely to be non-conform and consequently the labelling on finished products is incorrect".
Findus analysed 18 of its beef lasagne meals and found 11 contained between 60% and 100% horsemeat, the FSA said.
Its 320g, 360g and 500g meals were withdrawn from supermarket shelves on Monday.
Prime Minister David Cameron said it was a "very shocking story, it's completely unacceptable", and conceded there was "great public concern" about the issue.
"People will be angry to find out they have been eating horse when they thought they were eating beef.
"It's important we get this right. It's important to say there's no reason to believe any frozen food currently on sale is unsafe or a danger to health.
"But it's not about food safety - it's about proper food labelling and about confidence in retailers. The Food Standards Agency's got to do everything it can, retailers have got to do everything they can to make sure the food they sell is accurately labelled and described."
Downing Street described the latest incident as "distasteful" but stressed there was no evidence of a health risk and urged consumers to follow the FSA's advice.
A Number 10 spokeswoman said the matter appeared to involve "acts of criminality" which were being investigated by the police, including officers from the UK.
She could not say, however, whether any tests had been done on school dinners, hospital and prison meals or other state-provided food.
The French government has said it is investigating whether any fraud has been committed over the mis-selling and labelling of meat products.
The FSA has confirmed tests have been ordered on the lasagne for the veterinary drug phenylbutazone or "bute", which is banned from entering the food chain in the UK.
Findus has apologised for letting customers down and said refunds would be offered to anyone who bought the affected products.
A spokesman said: "We understand this it is a very sensitive subject for consumers and we would like to reassure you we have reacted immediately. We do not believe this to be a food safety issue.
"We are confident that we have fully resolved this supply chain issue. Fully compliant beef lasagne will be in stores again soon.
"We would like to take this opportunity to apologise to our customers for any inconvenience caused."
Comigel advised them to remove Findus beef lasagne and Aldi's Today's Special frozen beef lasagne and Today's Special frozen spaghetti bolognese from shelves.
Shadow environment Secretary Mary Creagh warned people to be careful about what they are eating.
"I also think we need to get into the schools, hospitals, catering establishments, find out what's in the freezers and test those as well. We have to have confidence that what we are eating is safe," she told Sky News.
Tesco has also decided to withdraw its Everyday Value spaghetti bolognese, which is produced at the same Comigel site.
A spokesman said: "We are aware of the results of the Findus tests and we will of course assist Findus with their recall process.
"Tests on our frozen Everyday Value spaghetti bolognese product are ongoing under our new DNA testing programme. We will inform our customers of the results as soon as possible."
The FSA, Defra and the Department of Health are working with businesses and trade bodies to enforce food safety and assess whether there are significant levels of improperly described meat in a whole series of processed beef products in the UK, including supplies to schools and hospitals.
Environment Secretary Owen Paterson said: "The presence of unauthorised ingredients cannot be tolerated ... the responsibility and for the safety and authenticity of food lies with those who produce it, and who sell or provide it to the final consumer."
Anyone who has purchased a Findus beef lasagne can call the firm's UK customer care line on 0800 132584, those in the Republic of Ireland, 1800 800500, or email firstname.lastname@example.org for a full refund.
what do you think?
I once heard sausages described as "little parcels of mystery". It seems that this now applies to processed food in general. Coming to a high street near to you soon, Solyent Green.
Neigh! Can't be true! They would probably give you the trots! ;-)
This is getting funnier by the day! OF COURSE we have a right to know what is in our food as we part with our hard earned cash although eating correctly produced horsemeat won't kill you. I wonder - it the lasagne was labelled "Fresh Horsemeat Lasagne" would it actually sell in this country ...? The British are such bunny huggers all logic goes out of the window. I LIKE Findus Lasagne - hope the flavour doesn't degenerate WITHOUT the horsemeat in it. I am sure the French will find this funny as our rejection of eating Horse has always puzzled them ... and me.
Sally. Quite right. This is about deception not horsemeat. Tell us what is in the product and we can decide whether to eat it or not rather than have something labelled as something else
" crinimal activity blamed" and there seem much we can do about it which is crinimal in itself.
DOESNT seem much we can do about it i mean.
Whilst criminal activity may well be the reason horsemeat was passed off as beef all this shows is how lax the quality control checks at these food manufacturers are. I remember a few years ago a big scandal about chicken condemned as unfit for human consumption finding its way back into the food chain as a result of criminal activity. The usual assurances about tighter checks so it can't happen again were made, but it has
WLU. It will bring a whole new meaning to the phrase having a ball!
Can see a big come back in in making your own food, youngsters on the whole don't know how to even cook the basics, not all, mind! When I worked in a fruit n veg shop, had youngsters asking " what's this?" As they held up a swede! I don't see fast food places as a bad thing, but for a lot of young families, it's their staple diet! Then it becomes a problem. Pet hate is seeing little ones in pushchairs clutching a sausage roll or pastie!
I might be getting this wrong but people are blaming Findus, surly it's the French meat supplier Comigel that are to blame, obviously EU standards mean diddly squat over there so why do we bother about it, I think it's payback time so how about we p*** in bottles and sell it to the French as 20yo scotch whisky, see if they like that.
Knowing the french they'll ask for more.
Steve. I like it. The EU try to micro manage so many things with their regulations and yet this sort of scam goes on with something as basic as the food we eat
WLU. Me too We can market it as Chateau Toon
As people who have been reading these comments will know, i bought three of the larger lasagnes for my freinds who are volunteering for the rspca cleaning up the birds washed ashore recently and i got half way through mine and the five others had eaten theres when we heard this news.and i can tell you it upset one of the people quite a lot as she has been bought with horses.i got to say i was one of the main people making horsey jokes on here but now i feel both horrified and cheated by this.anyway were taking the boxes into tescos at lunch time to see if i can get my money back at the very least.
Shaun. I remember an advert years ago for cornflakes which said If it doesn't say Kellogs on the box it is not Kellogs in the box. Rings a bit hollow now. Ps. Do you still have any friends?
Well my mate who eats loads of lasagne won the 3.30 at newmarket yesterday and I had a tenner on him !!!
Yes daven ive still got my freinds though yesterday i took a lot flack.even got banned from using the kitchen lol.three of us are going into tescos later lunchtime.the thing this really upset one girl here and made her really feel sick as she loves horses.its a bit like giving a muslim pork under the guise of beef or giving a dog lover dogmeat.so i litrally have gone from laughing about it to feeling quite horrified about it.you cant blame tescos or even fimdus
Horse meat should be part of your stable diet.
It might be for you mate. But not for responsible people.
You do know these jokes have been done to death and are no longer funny?
calm down ! he's only horsing around .
I rest my case
Now they have found traces of sea horse in fish fingers
37% Percentage of supermarket economy beef burgers tested which turned out to contain horse meat last week 33% Cuts government is making to Food Standards Agency and trading standards services responsible for food inspections
I have a 20 year old gelding. In the last four years on three seperate occasions he has been injectd with drugs which should prohibit him from entering the food chain.Including bute. If I wanted to sell him for meat , to be slaughtered and the meat shipped over to France for human consumption I could do it no problem. Theres no real checks or deterrants...its as easy as making a phone call. The joke is over...this is very very serious.
This shows Findus in a very bad light since, even if the horse meat is safe to eat, they clearly have no idea of what is going into their products. There should be some quality control at the factory as the ingredients are assembled, not just at the end of the production line. I predict that the company is in for a very tough time. Much as I like horses, I would have no problem eating horse meat, but I can also understand how distressed many might be. As someone says below, getting one's money back (I can't use the appropriate word, thanks to Orange) is not enough.
What would happen if you happened to be allergic to horse or pork.or somehow nuts got into the food chain and you unkowningly eat it, it could litrally kill someone.
So where are all the posters who thought that, because they had eaten a horse steak when holidaying in france ( "It's lovely, I can't see what all the fuss is about ), it was all ok really ? Criminals don't care a jot what state any meat they sold was in. It could have been infected with anything, cancer even. I'm still amazed at those posters absurd stance.
Are we being paid back for the foot and mouth episode?
Come back Burke and Hare; all is forgiven
Horsemeat? What next; humans?