October 29, 2020

Nestlé Pulls 2 Products in Horse Meat Scandal

Before the announcement late Monday, the crisis had already spread, with perhaps a dozen countries caught up in product recalls, but the involvement of Nestlé marks another significant act in a fast-moving drama which is forcing Europeans to question the contents of their meals.

Nestlé, which is based in Switzerland, said it had increased testing after the discoveries of horse meat in British foods and found “traces” of horse DNA in two products made with beef supplied by a German company named as H.J. Schypke.

The levels were above the 1 percent threshold used by the British Food Standards Agency  as an indicator of adulteration in testing being conducted by Britain’s food industry and therefore the products would be withdrawn, Nestlé said in a statement.

“There is no food safety issue, but the mislabeling of products means they fail to meet the very high standards consumers expect from us,” Nestlé added.

Two chilled pasta products, Buitoni Beef Ravioli and Beef Tortellini are being taken off supermarket shelves in Italy and Spain immediately. Meanwhile, Lasagnes à la Bolognaise Gourmandes, a frozen meat product made for the catering trade in France, will also be withdrawn and replaced with product made from 100 percent beef.

Nestlé knows only too well the importance of its brand image, having once been the object of a boycott after being embroiled in a controversy over the marketing of baby milk in developing countries.

Although the current horse meat crisis has been seen mainly as an issue of fraud and mislabeling it emerged last week that a powerful equine painkiller, phenylbutazone – or bute – may have entered the food chain.

Eight horses slaughtered for food in Britain tested positive for the drug. Six of those carcasses had already been exported to France for use in human food.

In Britain, food manufacturers have embarked on a huge program of tests of food to try to stem a crisis of confidence in products originating in a long and bewilderingly complex supply  chain.

Last Friday, the British Food Standards Agency released the results of 2,501 tests conducted on beef products by the British food industry, of which 29 contained more than 1 percent horse meat.

But, just as that information was released, it emerged separately that food intended for school meals had also contained horse meat and a blame game has erupted between politicians and supermarket bosses over where responsibility ultimately lies.

The European Union has also announced an increase in food testing though there are growing calls for more regulation at a European level. Though tough traceability rules for fresh beef products were introduced after the crisis over mad cow disease more than a decade ago, a similar regime is not in place for processed food.

“What has been discovered in recent days is large-scale fraud,”  said Richard Seeber, the coordinator for the center-right group  in the Environment, Public Health and Food Safety Committee of the European Parliament. “This is a clear breach of current European food labeling rules. This is why the first thing we need is more controls and better enforcement of the existing rules.”

Glenis Willmott, the leader of the British Labour Party’s members of the European Parliament, said that the response of the E.U.’s executive, the European Commission, had been totally inadequate.

“The horse meat scandal should result in a Europe-wide comprehensive legislation on ‘origin labeling’ for all meat in processed foods, and a better E.U. enforcement procedure,” Ms. Willmott said.

Article source: http://www.nytimes.com/2013/02/20/world/europe/nestle-pulls-2-products-in-horse-meat-scandal.html?partner=rss&emc=rss

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