Furniture maker IKEA pulls meatballs in horse-meat saga

The world's largest IKEA store located at Kungens Kurva in Stockholm, Sweden.
The world’s largest IKEA store, at Kungens Kurva in Stockholm, Sweden. © Holger Ellgaard

Swedish furniture maker IKEA is withdrawing a batch of meatballs from restaurants attached to its stores after Czech testing revealed the presence of horse meat.

Meatballs are traditional Swedish cuisine and are a popular line in IKEA’s in-store cafeterias. They are also offered, frozen, for sale in its food shops for customers to take home.

A message on IKEA’s Swedish Facebook page said: “We have today been informed that our meatballs may contain traces of horse meat from a test that is done in Czech. Our own checks have not revealed any traces of horse meat. Now, of course, we have to investigate this further.”

Czech officials reported findings on the EU’s Rapid Alert System. It said the frozen meatballs, supposed to contain only beef and pork, were intended for use in the restaurants of the IKEA furniture chain in the Czech Republic.

Ikea later confirmed it was pulling the batch of meatballs from sale in countries across Europe. IKEA spokeswoman Ylva Magnusson said meatballs from the same batch had gone out to Slovakia, Hungary, France, Britain, Portugal, the Netherlands, Belgium, Spain, Italy, Greece, Cyprus, and Ireland.

Reports suggested the meatballs were manufactured in Sweden for the furniture chain, although the source of the raw ingredients remained unclear.

“We are now initiating further tests on the same production batch in which the Czech Republic authorities found indications of horse meat,” IKEA said in a statement. Results were expected in the next few days.

“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 statement said.

IKEA had conducted tests on a range of its frozen food products two weeks ago and found no traces of horse meat.

Czech authorities also confirmed on Monday that they had found horse meat in beef burgers imported from Poland.

Spanish authorities have identified traces of horse meat in a beef cannelloni product by one of the brands of Nestlé. Nestlé Spain said that, after testing meat supplied to its factories in Spain, it was withdrawing six products from retail shelves and replacing them with product tested as being 100 per cent beef.

Nestlé said horse meat was found in a beef shipment from a Spanish supplier above the 1 per cent threshold, the level which determines adulteration. The meat, it said, had been certified as 100 per cent beef, so Nestlé was considering legal action.

The chief executive of Nestlé Spain, Bernard Meunier, said: “It is clear that this is a problem that affects all food industry manufacturers. This is a Europe-wide fraud. This is an unacceptable situation.

“I apologize to consumers and would reaffirm our will to be vigilant.

“We will continue to make all DNA testing necessary to rule out any other beef affected by the same problem. We are strengthening our quality control to avoid something similar happening again.

“The quality and safety of our products is and will remain the number one priority for Nestlé.”



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