Trust in retailers has been “severely damaged” by the ongoing furore surrounding the horsemeat scandal, Sainsbury’s CEO Justin King has said.
Writing in The Telegraph, King said: ”Trust has been severely damaged.
“The horse meat scandal has identified potential weaknesses in the food supply chain that must be addressed with urgency and rigour.
“Every retailer and every supplier, from the small independents to the multinational players, from the processors to the food service industry in both the public and private sectors, has a duty to act.”
Following an initial investigation by the Food Standards Agency Ireland last month which found frozen beef burgers sold at Tesco, Aldi and Dunnes Stores to contain horse and pig DNA, the extent of contamination has engulfed grocers including Waitrose, The Co-operative Food, Iceland and others as well as suppliers and processors.
Earlier today, food supplier Birds Eye revealed that one of its products sold in Belgium tested positive for horse DNA and it has been forced to withdraw all beef products from supplier Frigilunch N.V. pending further testing.
Birds Eye noted that the contamination, which stands at two per cent, is not a health food issue, though added “this is clearly unacceptable”.
Products withdrawn from sale are Birds Eye’s Traditional Speghetti Bolognese 340g, Shepherd’s Pie 400g and Beef Lasagne 400g which will be absent from shelves “until we have finished our investigations and have complete confidence in this supplier.”
A statement from the group added: “We want to apologise to you and reassure you that we will keep you fully informed and that we are taking action to deal with this issue. “
Yesterday, Co-op CEO Peter Marks also apologised to customers over the issue, commenting in an open letter: “I believe that as a result of this food scandal we have let you down.
“We cannot blame the government or the regulators, or even our suppliers. At the end of the day, the buck stops here.”
However, the Co-operative Group announced last night that 100 per cent of its independent tests of own brand minced beef products proved negative.
A spokesperson for the Co-operative said: “We commissioned stringent independent testing on our own-brand products containing minced beef, as agreed with the Food Standards Agency.
“The results have shown that no further products tested have been found to contain horse DNA.”