Products supposedly containing chicken and pork should be tested for cross-contamination the wake of the horsemeat scandal, the Food Standards Agency said today.
In an interview with the Daily Telegraph, FSA chief executive Catherine Brown said that once the focus of the investigation shifts away from ground beef products, the public would expect tests on other meats in the food chain.
The news comes as Tesco, Britain's largest supermarket, was dragged further into the horse-meat scandal when it admitted that a second of its beef products was heavily contaminated.
The retailer, which was forced to withdraw contaminated burgers four weeks ago, announced that tests had shown its Every Day Value Spaghetti Bolognese contained in excess of 60 per cent horse meat. The supermarket apologised, saying it recognised it had failed customers twice.
Today’s FSA announcement that chicken and pork products should be tested comes amid speculation that chicken could have been injected with waste from the pork and beef production process to increase its weight and value.
If true, the development would be particularly sensitive as Jews and Muslims are forbidden from eating pork, and Hindus are not allowed to eat beef.
During her interview with the Daily Telegraph, Miss Brown appeared to add to the confusion over the safety of horsemeat currently in the food chain.
Findus beef lasagnes, which have been found to contain up to 100 per cent horsemeat, are currently being tested to find out if they have dangerous levels of the horse tranquilizer bute.
Despite claiming that finding traces of bute would not be a “huge concern” and suggesting it may not do any harm to those that have inadvertently consumed it, Miss Brown added “I wouldn’t eat Findus products that we are awaiting the Bute tests on – but anything else is fine to eat”.
Yesterday, embattled Environment Secretary Owen Paterson warned of further “bad news” from tests to uncover the extent of horse-meat contamination in processed beef products on British supermarket shelves and food served in schools and hospitals.
The FSA announced that companies supplying schools, hospitals, prisons and the armed forces will be included in tough new tests and public-sector bodies should “reject or withhold stock” from any supplier unable to comply with guidelines.
Mr Paterson, who faced accusations of incompetence from his Labour shadow, who outlined plans for the compulsory tests for all UK producers and retailers, said the problem could only be solved at a European level and announced an emergency meeting of European Union agriculture ministers on Friday.
Tesco said it was “very sorry” for the discovery of adulteration in the spaghetti bolognese product, which was withdrawn from sale last week. It said three of the samples tested showed levels of horse DNA in excess of 60 per cent.
Tim Smith, the supermarket's technical director, said: “The source of the horse meat is still under investigation by the relevant authorities. The level of contamination suggests that Comigel was not following the appropriate production process... and we will not take food from the facility again.”