Red faces over Islam beef

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'WHERE'S the beef?' might well be the question of the day in the Islamic world as Unilever yesterday withdrew its canned beef from Islamic countries after traces of pork protein were discovered in a consignment in the United Arab Emirates, writes John Murray.

The pig is 'haram', or unclean, to Muslims, and UVG, the Rotterdam-based food products subsidiary of the Anglo-Dutch conglomerate, worked desperately to reassure Islamic customers that the mistake would not be repeated.

UVG said 900 tonnes of the tinned beef, sold under the Zwan label and worth pounds 530,000, were being withdrawn. A UVG team travelled to the UAE last week after local health authorities complained.

The company said more intensive use of production lines might explain how the offending pork proteins made their way into the beef tins. Advanced testing methods were being introduced to allow contamination to be spotted in future.

A new consignment of Zwan beef will be dispatched to the UAE as soon as possible. The company said it was seeking other markets for the withdrawn beef which, it stressed, met all standard quality requirements despite the presence of the pork proteins.