Criminal prosecutions could follow an investigation into the horse meat contamination of burgers sold by some supermarkets, the UK government has said.
Tesco yesterday took out full page adverts in British newspapers to apologise after it emerged that value burgers had contained up to 29 per cent horse meat.
Aldi, Lidl and Iceland have also withdrawn frozen beef burgers from their shelves while Sainsbury’s, Asda and Co-op withdrew some products as a precaution.
In the advertisement, entitled “We apologise”, Tesco said: “While the FSAI (Food Safety Authority of Ireland) has said that the products pose no risk to public health, we appreciate that, like us, our customers will find this absolutely unacceptable.”
It continued: “We have immediately withdrawn from sale all products from the supplier in question, from all our stores and online … We and our supplier have let you down and we apologise.”
But Environment Minister David Heath said standards were generally very high in the British food industry and backed the Food Standards Agency’s (FSA) risk-based checking system.
Mr Heath said: “Because something has been discovered in Ireland, which is serious, which may lead to criminal proceedings, does not undermine the very serious efforts which are taken by retailers, by processors and by producers in this country to ensure traceability.”