Horsemeat scandal: Birds Eye and luxury caterer Sodexo withdraw beef products

 

The horse meat scandal widened still further today when two more prestige food companies, a family favourite and a luxury caterer, were forced to withdraw their products from sale.

The long-established brand Birds Eye, and the French catering giant Sodexo which serves 2,300 outlets in Britain, took meat products off the market when some tested positive for horse DNA.

Birds Eye pulled from sale three ready meals made by a Belgian supplier – spaghetti bolognese, shepherd’s pie and lasagne – after traces of horse were found in a chilli con carne dish from the same firm.

Sodexo, which describes itself as “the UK’s largest event caterer and provider of corporate hospitality packages”, and provides the catering at the Royal Ascot race meeting, said it was withdrawing all frozen beef products from its UK catering operations with immediate effect, after horse DNA was found in three of them – beefburgers, minced beef, and halal minced beef.

Both companies were quick to issue apologetic statements in a bid to reassure customers. Birds Eye stressed its withdrawal was “precautionary” and said there was no evidence of contamination in any products told to its UK consumers.

The company said: “We want to reassure you from the testing we have completed that all Birds Eye beefburgers, beef pies and traditional beef dinners do not contain horse DNA. Regrettably, one product sold in Belgium, chilli con carne, produced by Frigilunch NV, has tested positive for horse DNA. As a precautionary measure, we will withdraw all other beef products from this supplier.”

Sodexo, which, besides providing corporate hospitality, also supplies food to schools, care homes and the armed forces, described the situation as “totally unacceptable”.

The company said in a statement: “Sodexo has had a proactive programme in place to ensure there is no horse meat in its supply chain. Despite repeated guarantees from our suppliers, our sampling has identified frozen beef products which tested positive for equine DNA. 

“We will only readmit into our catering operations products that have affirmatively passed DNA testing, pursuant to laboratory test criteria.”

In a third damage-limitation exercise yesterday, Peter Marks, chief executive of the Co-op, wrote to more than a million of the company’s members apologising after two lines of frozen own-brand beefburgers, made with meat supplied by Irish manufacturer Silvercrest Foods, were withdrawn from sale by the firm after they were found to contain horse DNA.

Mr Marks wrote: “I strongly believe that all food retailers must accept ultimate accountability for the products we sell to our customers.”

Also yesterday, the Food Standards Agency released the latest tranche of test results submitted by the food industry. They showed that, out of 1,133 products checked, only six were positive for horse. These included Asda’s bolognese sauce and a Whitbread Group lasagne and beefburger.

Suggested Topics
Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA celebration of British elections
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consultant - Swiss Banking and Finance

£20000 - £25000 per annum + Uncapped commission: SThree: Can you speak German,...

Ashdown Group: Marketing Executive - 6 month FTC - Central London

£25000 - £30000 per annum + benefits: Ashdown Group: An exciting opportunity f...

Ashdown Group: Junior Project Manager (website, web application) - Agile

£215 per day: Ashdown Group: Junior Project Manager (website, web application ...

Guru Careers: Pastry Sous Chef / Experienced Pastry Chef

£27K: Guru Careers: We are seeking a Pastry Sous Chef / Experienced Pastry Che...

Day In a Page

Fishing for votes with Nigel Farage: The Ukip leader shows how he can work an audience as he casts his line to the disaffected of Grimsby

Fishing is on Nigel Farage's mind

Ukip leader casts a line to the disaffected
Who is bombing whom in the Middle East? It's amazing they don't all hit each other

Who is bombing whom in the Middle East?

Robert Fisk untangles the countries and factions
China's influence on fashion: At the top of the game both creatively and commercially

China's influence on fashion

At the top of the game both creatively and commercially
Lord O’Donnell: Former cabinet secretary on the election and life away from the levers of power

The man known as GOD has a reputation for getting the job done

Lord O'Donnell's three principles of rule
Rainbow shades: It's all bright on the night

Rainbow shades

It's all bright on the night
'It was first time I had ever tasted chocolate. I kept a piece, and when Amsterdam was liberated, I gave it to the first Allied soldier I saw'

Bread from heaven

Dutch survivors thank RAF for World War II drop that saved millions
Britain will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power - Labour

How 'the Axe' helped Labour

UK will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power
Rare and exclusive video shows the horrific price paid by activists for challenging the rule of jihadist extremists in Syria

The price to be paid for challenging the rule of extremists

A revolution now 'consuming its own children'
Welcome to the world of Megagames

Welcome to the world of Megagames

300 players take part in Watch the Skies! board game in London
'Nymphomaniac' actress reveals what it was really like to star in one of the most explicit films ever

Charlotte Gainsbourg on 'Nymphomaniac'

Starring in one of the most explicit films ever
Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi: The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers

Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi

The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers
Vince Cable interview: Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'

Vince Cable exclusive interview

Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'
Iwan Rheon interview: Game of Thrones star returns to his Welsh roots to record debut album

Iwan Rheon is returning to his Welsh roots

Rheon is best known for his role as the Bastard of Bolton. It's gruelling playing a sadistic torturer, he tells Craig McLean, but it hasn't stopped him recording an album of Welsh psychedelia
Morne Hardenberg interview: Cameraman for BBC's upcoming show Shark on filming the ocean's most dangerous predator

It's time for my close-up

Meet the man who films great whites for a living
Increasing numbers of homeless people in America keep their mobile phones on the streets

Homeless people keep mobile phones

A homeless person with a smartphone is a common sight in the US. And that's creating a network where the 'hobo' community can share information - and fight stigma - like never before