The horsemeat scandal that has rocked Europe appears to be widening even more as Swiss food giant Nestle said late Monday that it withdrew beef pasta products from stores in Italy and Spain after horse DNA was found in the meals.
The world’s largest food producer said it is “now suspending deliveries of all our finished products produced using beef supplied” by German company H.J. Schypke, a subcontractor for JBS Toledo N.V., a Belgium-based supplier, according to a statement posted on Nestle’s website.
“The levels found are above the one percent threshold the U.K.’s Food Safety Agency uses to indicate likely adulteration or gross negligence. We have informed the authorities accordingly,” the statement reads.
The company said the products pose no food safety issues, but noted that mislabeling products erodes consumer confidence.
“Therefore we are voluntarily removing two chilled pasta products, Buitoni Beef Ravioli and Beef Tortellini from sale in Italy and Spain immediately, and we will replace them with product confirmed by DNA testing to be made from 100% beef,” Nestle said. Lasagnes a la Bolognaise Gourmandes, a product used by catering companies, will also be recalled.
Nestle will now be testing all the beef for its products sold in Europe, the statement adds.
“We want to apologize to consumers and reassure them that the actions being taken to deal with this issue will result in higher standards and enhanced traceability,” the company said.
Nestle is the latest company to discover traces of horsemeat in beef products. Two weeks ago, Findus recalled beef lasagna products that contained as much as 100 percent horsemeat. On Jan. 15, U.K. supermarket Tesco and several other chains apologized for selling beef burgers that contained horse DNA.
Findus blamed the horsemeat contamination on supplier Comigel. French authorities blamed the problem mainly on supply company Spanghero for knowing the horsemeat was mislabeled as beef when it sold the products to Findus.
The European Union last week said its member states will now immediately begin testing for horse DNA in processed beef products, according to a statement on its website.
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