THE FSA today warned consumers against eating the products after Findus UK tested 18 of its beef lasagne products and found 11 contained in the range of 60 per cent to 100 per cent horse meat.
Catherine Brown, chief executive of the FSA, said today: “This is an appalling situation. “I have to say that the two cases of gross contamination that we see here indicates that it is highly likely there has been criminal and fraudulent activity involved.”
She added: “We are demanding that food businesses conduct authenticity tests on all beef products, such as beef burgers, meatballs and lasagne, and provide the results to the FSA. The tests will be for the presence of significant levels of horse meat.”
The frozen food company has now apologised to customers and said refunds would be offered to anyone who bought the affected lasagne products, which were made by French food supplier Comigel. Retail giant Tesco and discount chain Aldi have withdrawn a range of ready meals produced by Comigel over fears that they contained contaminated meat.
But the agency confirmed tests have been ordered on the lasagne for the veterinary drug phenylbutazone or “bute”, which is banned from entering the food chain.
The FSA added: “People who have bought any Findus beef lasagne products are advised not to eat them and return them to the shop they bought them from.”
A Findus UK 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.
“Fully compliant beef lasagne will be in stores again soon.
“We would like to take this opportunity to apologise to our customers for any inconvenience caused.”
Findus UK withdrew its 320g, 360g and 500g lasagne meals from supermarket shelves as a precautionary measure earlier this week.
It came after Comigel alerted Findus and Aldi that their products “do not conform to specification”.
It advised them to remove Findus beef lasagne and Aldi’s Today’s Special frozen beef lasagne and Today’s Special frozen spaghetti bolognese.
Tesco also decided to withdraw its Everyday Value spaghetti bolognese, which is produced at the same Comigel site.