Meatballs back on the menu at Ikea

Swedish furniture giant Ikea said Thursday it had started gradually reintroducing meatballs in its restaurants worldwide after horsemeat was found in the product last month.

"We're starting with Sweden, Denmark, Finland and Austria" on Thursday, Ikea spokeswoman Ylva Magnusson said.

Ikea pulled its trademark frozen meatballs off the shelves and from its restaurants in 25 countries in Europe and Asia in late February after traces of horse DNA were found.

The company said it was keeping the same meatball supplier, Swedish company Dafgaard, but had reduced the number of meat suppliers from 15 to 7.

"We have simplified the chain in order to trace the products more easily. Controls have also been strengthened," Magnusson said.

Ikea said the meat in the meatballs was currently of German origin, and Swedish and Irish meat would also be used in the future.

Ikea did not identify the dropped meat suppliers by name nor country of origin.

The company added that it was introducing systematic DNA testing on all products using minced meat from now on.

While the meatballs were being reintroduced in Ikea's restaurants, the bags of frozen meatballs were to be stocked in the stores' food sections "within three to four weeks," Magnusson said.