The U.K.’s food agency said Thursday some beef lasagna products that were recently recalled contained 100 percent horsemeat. This is the latest incident of horsemeat found in products labeled beef in Britain. On Jan. 15 supermarket chain Tesco and others apologized for selling beef burgers that contained horse DNA.
Findus, the brand of the lasagna, recalled the products from retailers in 320-gram, 360-gram, and 500-gram (17.64 ounces) sizes Monday as part of a precautionary measure, reported the BBC. Findus said, “We do not believe this to be a food safety issue,” but the U.K.’s Food Standards Agency (FSA) warned people not to eat the products.
The FSA said that after Findus tested 18 of its beef lasagna products, it found 11 meals containing between 60 percent and 100 percent horsemeat. “We have no evidence to suggest that this is a food safety risk. However, the FSA has ordered Findus to test the lasagna for the veterinary drug phenylbutazone, or ‘bute,'” the agency said in a statement.
“Animals treated with phenylbutazone are not allowed to enter the food chain as it may pose a risk to human health,” it said. The Findus beef lasagna was distributed to major U.K. supermarkets and smaller convenience stores.
It added: “Findus has already begun a full recall of these products. People who have bought any Findus beef lasagna products are advised not to eat them and return them to the shop they bought them from.”
The agency said that bute is not allowed in the food chain because it can potentially cause a rare form of blood disorder, aplastic anemia. The chemical was banned for human consumption after approximately 1 person per 30,000 people suffered serious side effects.
“It is completely unacceptable that a product which says it’s beef lasagna turns out to be mainly horsemeat. Consumers have a right to expect that food is exactly what it says on the label,” stated Environment Secretary Owen Paterson Thursday evening.
He added: “The presence of unauthorized ingredients cannot be tolerated. This is especially true when those ingredients are likely to be unacceptable to consumers, or where there is any conceivable risk to human health.”
Findus said that the product was made by a third-party supplier and not by the company itself, reported the BBC. The company, which sells frozen foods, said that other products were not affected.
“We understand this is a very sensitive subject for consumers and we would like to reassure you we have reacted immediately. We do not believe this to be a food safety issue,” the firm stated.