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Ikea withdraws meatballs from sale after inspectors find traces of horsemeat

Officials said that traces of horsemeat were found in "beef and pork" meatballs in the UK, Netherlands, Portugal and others

Ikea has withdrawn meatballs for sale across much of Europe after Czech inspectors found traces of horsemeat in a batch manufactured in Sweden.

The officials said that traces of horsemeat were found in "beef and pork" meatballs in the UK, Netherlands, Portugal and others.

A spokesman for the retailer, famous for its flat-pack self-assembly furniture, said internal tests had shown no problems up to now.

He said in a statement: "Ikea takes the test result from the Czech Republic authorities showing indications of traces of horse meat seriously.

"The concerned production batch of meatballs has been withdrawn from the Swedish Food Market in the Ikea stores.

"Already two weeks ago, Ikea Group initiated DNA analyses of all meat products in the range. Twelve tested samples of different batches of meatballs showed no traces of horse meat.

"To validate the test results, we are now initiating further tests on the same production batch in which the Czech Republic authorities found indications of horse meat."

A spokesman said they were expecting test results in the coming days and will then be able to give more information.

He said: "Ikea is committed to serving and selling high quality food that is safe, healthy and produced with care for the environment and the people who produce it.

"We do not tolerate any other ingredients than the ones stipulated in our recipes or specifications, secured through set standards, certifications and product analysis by accredited laboratories."

The firm said it had issued "a sales stop" of the concerned batch in Slovakia, the Czech Republic, Hungary, France, Portugal, Italy, Netherlands, Belgium, Spain, Greece, Cyprus, Ireland as well as the UK.

The meatballs were labelled as beef and pork and were in one-kilogram frozen packs sent to the Czech Republic for sale in Ikea stores there.

The Czech Republic's state veterinary administration found traces of horsemeat as part of its testing programme.

A total of 760 kilos (1,675lbs) of the meatballs were stopped from reaching the shelves.

The spokesman said the move did not affect the supply of meatballs to Ikea restaurants in the UK.