Ikea meatball producer finds no horsemeat in products

The producer of Ikea meatballs withdrawn from shelves in 24 countries amid fears they contained horse said Tuesday it had found none of this meat in its product.

It was however still awaiting results from tests on meat in which Czech authorities said they found equine DNA, Dafgaard said.

"Out of 320 tests performed in the last three weeks, none contain horsemeat," said chief executive Ulf Dafgaard.

The contents of products that were ready to be sold had been analysed by the company and by an external laboratory, he said.

Dafgaard said it had unsuccessfully tried to contact the Czech laboratory that found horsemeat in meatballs sold by Ikea for more information about the amount involved.

The Swedish furniture giant said Tuesday it had pulled one-kilogramme (2.2-pound) bags of frozen meatballs off the shelves of its stores in 24 countries.

They were Poland, Austria, Hungary, the Dominican Republic, Britain, Portugal, Finland, Germany, Italy, Denmark, the Netherlands, Belgium, Romania, Slovakia, the Czech Republic, Sweden, Thailand, Spain, Bulgaria, Greece, Hong Kong, France, Cyprus and Ireland.

The Czech agency said it also found traces of horse in burgers made in Poland that were imported by Denmark-based food chain Nowaco.

Ikea was the latest group to become caught up in a Europe-wide scandal over horsemeat in food products that erupted in January when horse DNA was detected in beefburgers in Britain and Ireland.

Nestle, which last week was forced to yank products off the shelves in Spanish and Italian supermarkets after detecting horsemeat in deliveries from a German supplier, said Monday it would stop buying all products from Spanish group Servocar after traces of horse were discovered.

In Greece, Athens chief prosecutor Panagiota Fakou ordered Tuesday new checks for horsemeat amid reports that at least one Greek company may have brought tainted meat into the country.

The Greek agriculture ministry has also ordered a month-long round of checks into beef products.

"The relevant services have stepped up checks," junior agriculture minister Maximos Harakopoulos said in a statement.