Two European food firms pull meals in horsemeat scare

Two major food companies pulled more products from shelves in Britain, Belgium, Ireland and the Netherlands on Friday after discovering horsemeat in ready-made meals labelled as beef.

The move came as British food safety authorities revealed that a total of 37 products sold by retailers had now tested positive for equine meat since the start of the scandal that has hit many European countries.

Frozen foods group Iglo, the parent company of Birds Eye, said it was withdrawing all beef products made by the Belgian supplier Frigilunch N. V. after beef chili con carne sold in Belgium tested positive for 2 percent horse DNA.

The "precautionary measure" affects eight Iglo products in Belgium, three Birds Eye products in Britain, three Birds Eye products in Ireland and one Iglo product in the Netherlands.

"The withdrawn products will not be replaced on supermarket shelves until we have finished our investigations and have complete confidence in this supplier," it said in a statement.

Separately food manufacturer Sodexo, whose clients include the British armed forces, said it was withdrawing all frozen beef products from its British catering operations.

French-based Sodexo said it had taken the step after a frozen beef product tested positive for horse DNA.

Linked products included beef burgers, minced beef and halal minced beef, Britain's Food Standards Agency (FSA) said.

The FSA on Friday released its latest results from a second wave of tests on meat products in Britain, which formally confirmed eight new products that were positive for horsemeat, although all including Sodexo's had previously been made public.

Out of a total of 3,634 products tested in Britain over 99 percent contained no horse DNA at or above the level of 1 percent, the agency said, adding that its testing programme would continue.

A vast food scandal has erupted in Europe in January after horsemeat was initially found in so-called beef ready-made meals and burgers in Britain and Ireland. It has since spread to as far as Hong Kong.