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?
News
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
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

Recruitment Genius: 3rd Line Virtualisation, Windows & Server Engineer

£40000 - £47000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A 3rd Line Virtualisation / Sto...

Recruitment Genius: Refrigeration and Air Conditioning Service Engineer

£26000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A successful national service f...

Recruitment Genius: Business Development Executive / Sales - OTE £25,000

£15000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an opportunity to join ...

Recruitment Genius: Sales Administrator - Fixed Term Contract

£17500 - £20000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: We currently require an experie...

Day In a Page

Sepp Blatter resignation: The beginning of Fifa's long road to reform?

Does Blatter's departure mean Fifa will automatically clean up its act?

Don't bet on it, says Tom Peck
Charles Kennedy: The baby of the House who grew into a Lib Dem giant

The baby of the House who grew into a Lib Dem giant

Charles Kennedy was consistently a man of the centre-left, dedicated to social justice, but was also a champion of liberty and an opponent of the nanny-state, says Baroness Williams
Syria civil war: The harrowing testament of a five-year-old victim of this endless conflict

The harrowing testament of a five-year-old victim of Syria's endless civil war

Sahar Qanbar lost her mother and brother as civilians and government soldiers fought side by side after being surrounded by brutal Islamist fighters. Robert Fisk visited her
The future of songwriting: How streaming is changing everything we know about making music

The future of songwriting

How streaming is changing everything we know about making music
William Shemin and Henry Johnson: Jewish and black soldiers receive World War I Medal of Honor amid claims of discrimination

Recognition at long last

Jewish and black soldiers who fought in WWI finally receive medals after claims of discrimination
Beating obesity: The new pacemaker which helps over-eaters

Beating obesity

The new pacemaker which helps over-eaters
9 best women's festival waterproofs

Ready for rain: 9 best women's festival waterproofs

These are the macs to keep your denim dry and your hair frizz-free(ish)
Cycling World Hour Record: Nervous Sir Bradley Wiggins ready for pain as he prepares to go distance

Wiggins worried

Nervous Sir Bradley ready for pain as he prepares to attempt cycling's World Hour Record
Liverpool close in on Milner signing

Liverpool close in on Milner signing

Reds baulk at Christian Benteke £32.5m release clause
On your feet! Spending at least two hours a day standing reduces the risk of heart attacks, cancer and diabetes, according to new research

On your feet!

Spending half the day standing 'reduces risk of heart attacks and cancer'
With scores of surgeries closing, what hope is there for the David Cameron's promise of 5,000 more GPs and a 24/7 NHS?

The big NHS question

Why are there so few new GPs when so many want to study medicine?
Big knickers are back: Thongs ain't what they used to be

Thongs ain't what they used to be

Big knickers are back
Thurston Moore interview

Thurston Moore interview

On living in London, Sonic Youth and musical memoirs
In full bloom

In full bloom

Floral print womenswear
From leading man to Elephant Man, Bradley Cooper is terrific

From leading man to Elephant Man

Bradley Cooper is terrific