Testing on Findus beef lasagne has revealed that some of the ready meals may have contained up to 100 per cent horse meat, the Food Standards Agency (FSA) said last night.
Shoppers who bought the lasagne products, which are made by French food supplier Comigel on behalf of Findus, have been warned not to eat them.
Findus tested 18 of its beef lasagne products and found 11 meals containing 60 to 100 per cent horse meat, the FSA said.
Retail giant Tesco and discount chain Aldi withdrew a range of ready meals produced by Comigel over fears that they contained contaminated meat.
An FSA statement said: “The Food Standards Agency has confirmed that the meat content of beef lasagne products recalled by Findus has tested positive for more than 60 per cent horse meat.
“We have no evidence to suggest that this is a food-safety risk. However, the FSA has ordered Findus to test the lasagne for the veterinary drug phenylbutazone, or ‘bute’. Animals treated with phenylbutazone are not allowed to enter the food chain as it may pose a risk to human health.”
Anyone who bought the lasagne products should return them to the shop they were bought from, the FSA said.
Findus UK yesterday apologised to customers and said anyone who bought the affected lasagne products could get a full refund.
A spokesman said: “We understand this it 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. We are confident that we have fully resolved this supply chain issue.
“Consumers who have purchased the product should call our Findus UK Customer Care Line on UK 0800 132584, ROI 1800 800500 or email firstname.lastname@example.org for a full refund.
The latest development in the contamination crisis comes days after supermarket chain Asda withdrew products supplied by a Northern Ireland company which was storing meat found to contain a high proportion of horse DNA.
Newry-based Freeza Meats had been storing the consignment of meat, which was labelled as beef, on behalf of a supplier in the Irish Republic – Co Monaghan-based meat trader McAdam Foods.
Two tested samples were found to contain 80 per cent horse meat.
McAdam Foods has insisted it had no knowledge that any of its meat contained horse DNA. It claimed the contaminated produce originated in Poland.
The Irish meat-processing industry has been rocked by the horse-meat crisis, with a number of suppliers being caught up in the scare.
Authorities on both sides of the border have pledged to restore the sector’s battered image, while police in the Irish Republic have launched an investigation.