Flat-pack furniture specialist Ikea is the latest retailer to be implicated in the ongoing horsemeat scandal after traces of horse DNA were discovered in its meatballs by the Czech Republic authorities, it has been announced today.
Sales of the meatballs have been stopped in the UK & Ireland as well as in “other concerned countries” across Europe ahead of further testing to identify the extent of the problem.
Ikea emphasised that it had initiated DNA analysis of all meat products in the range a fortnight ago and results had proved negative.
A statement from the group said: “Ikea takes the test result from the Czech Republic authorities showing indications of traces of horse meat seriously.
“The concerned production batch of meatballs has been withdrawn from the Swedish Food Market in the IKEA stores.
“Ikea is committed to serving and selling high quality food that is safe, healthy and produced with care for the environment and the people who produce it.
“We do not tolerate any other ingredients than the ones stipulated in our recipes or specifications, secured through set standards, certifications and product analysis by accredited laboratories.”
As the scandal continues to escalate, implicating countries across Europe, EU agriculture ministers are to meet in Brussels this evening to discuss the crisis and Environment Secretary Owen Paterson pledged last week to demand action at the summit.
Paterson commented: “Food businesses from throughout the industry, including retailers, manufacturers, caterers and other wholesalers, are putting enormous effort into getting this testing completed as quickly as possible.
“It’s an important first step from them in rebuilding the certainty and trust that consumers deserve.
“There is more work to be done to find out exactly how this happened and how to make the system much stronger.
“I will continue to insist on concrete, coordinated action right across Europe when I meet European agriculture ministers on Monday.”
However, Ikea has issued a sales stop of the batch in Slovakia, Hungary, France, Portugal, Italy, Netherlands, Belgium, Spain, Greece and Cyprus, highlighting the far-reaching implications for international companies.
Ikea has vowed to undertake further investigations and added in its statement: “To validate the test results, we are now initiating further tests on the same production batch in which the Czech Republic authorities found indications of horsemeat.
“We are expecting test results in the coming days and will then be able to give more information.
“We work closely with all suppliers of raw material, processed food and services to ensure the IKEA Way (IWAY) on purchasing is followed.
“IWAY is our supplier code of conduct and sets minimum standards for all suppliers.”