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Swiss food giant Nestle said Monday it had stopped using a Spanish supplier after tests determined there was horse DNA in products supposedly containing pure beef, in the latest development in a Europe-wide food-labelling scandal.
"Tests have shown that one batch, supplied by Servocar, a company from Casarrubios del Monte (Toledo), contains horse DNA above the one-percent threshold likely to indicate adulteration or gross negligence," Nestle said in a statement.
The food giant, which last week was forced to yank products off the shelves in Spanish and Italian supermarkets after detecting horsemeat in deliveries from German supplier H.J. Schypke, said it would stop buying all Servocar products and planned to sue the Spanish company for damages.
Nestle insisted that the six products that had been removed from shelves in Spain, including Fusilli carne Buitoni Completissimo and Empanadillas de carne La Cocinera, did not pose a food safety issue.
"But the mislabelling of products means they fail to meet the very high standards consumers expect from us," the company said.
European authorities and food companies have been scrambling to reassure consumers after falsely labelled meat has come to light in several European countries from a sprawling chain of production spanning a maze of abattoirs and suppliers across the continent.
Bernard Meunier, who heads Nestle's Spanish unit, stressed in the statement that the Swiss company was not the only one struggling to root out the problem of false labelling.
"It is clear this is a problem almost all manufacturers in the food industry now face. There is widespread fraud being committed across Europe. This is totally unacceptable," he said.
He pointed out that the company had begun testing all new deliveries for horse DNA.
"We are enhancing our quality assurance and testing procedures to ensure that we don’t face the same problem in future," he said.