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A man slicing horse meat/FILE

Kenya

Nestle pulls meals in Italy, Spain as horsemeat scandal grows

Nestle's logo on a road sign near the company headquarters/AFP

Nestle’s logo on a road sign near the company headquarters/AFP

PARIS, Feb 19 – Swiss giant Nestle has become the latest food company hit by Europe’s horsemeat scandal, withdrawing two types of pasta meal from supermarket shelves in Italy and Spain due to contamination.

The news came Monday as German discount chain Lidl pulled ready-made meals from the shelves of its Finnish, Danish, Swedish and Belgian stores as it also confirmed the presence of horsemeat.

Meanwhile the French firm that sparked the Europe-wide food alert, by allegedly passing off 750 tonnes of horsemeat as beef, was allowed to resume production of minced meat, sausages and ready-to-eat meals.

But Spanghero, whose horsemeat found its way into 4.5 million “beef” products sold across Europe, will no longer be allowed to stock frozen meat, France’s Agriculture Minister Stephane Le Foll told AFP.

Nestle, the world’s biggest food company, said in a statement that “our tests have found traces of horse DNA in two products,” while assuring that there was no public health risk.

“The mislabeling of products means they fail to meet the very high standards consumers expect from us,” it added. Therefore the company is “voluntarily removing” two chilled pasta products, Buitoni Beef Ravioli and Beef Tortellini from sale in Italy and Spain immediately.

Nestle announced it was also suspending deliveries of all products using beef supplied by German firm HJ Schypke, a subcontractor of JBS Toledo.

A Nestle frozen meat product for catering businesses, produced in France, will also be withdrawn from sale.

Nestle apologised to consumers while assuring that “actions being taken to deal with this issue will result in higher standards and enhanced traceability.”

Earlier Monday German discount chain Lidl pulled ready-made meals from the shelves of its Finnish, Danish, Swedish and Belgian stores after tests confirmed the presence of horsemeat.

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Lidl said last week it had found traces of horse in beef goulash and a tortellini bolognese product sold by its Austrian subsidiary.

Concerns about horsemeat first emerged in mid-January when Irish authorities found traces of horse in beefburgers made by firms in Ireland and Britain and sold in supermarket chains including Tesco and Aldi.

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