ParknShop takes Findus lasagne off shelves amid fears over horsemeat

Frozen lasagne taken off supermarket shelves; customers who bought product told not to eat it

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 16 February, 2013, 12:00am
UPDATED : Friday, 22 February, 2013, 8:53pm

A frozen beef product found to contain horse DNA in Britain is being pulled from supermarket shelves in Hong Kong, the government said last night.

The 360g packs of Findus Beef Lasagne were previously sold at ParknShop and its subsidiaries Great and Taste, a spokeswoman for the chain said. She declined to say how many boxes had been imported, sold or recalled.

The lasagne was imported from Britain and made by French food-processing company Comigel in Luxembourg.

The move came almost a month after Irish authorities first reported finding horsemeat in beef products sold in supermarkets. It has since evolved into one of the biggest food-safety scandals in Europe in recent years, leading to thousands of DNA checks on meat products. One of the biggest concerns is whether the products contain equine drugs that could harm humans.

The Centre for Food Safety in Hong Kong said it received notification from the European Commission's Rapid Alert System for Food and Feed earlier yesterday that a British company had detected horse DNA in its own-brand beef lasagne. Further testing for the equine painkiller phenylbutazone, or "bute", had been undertaken and results were awaited, the centre added.

The product "might be adulterated with horsemeat which has not undergone tests for veterinary drugs", the centre said. It advised consumers who bought the affected product, regardless of the batch number, not to consume it.

Another leading local supermarket chain, Wellcome, said it had never sold the product.

Meanwhile, the president of French meat processor Spanghero promised yesterday to disprove allegations that his firm knowingly sold horsemeat labelled as beef.

"I don't know who is behind this, but I can tell you it's not us. I'm astonished," Spanghero boss Barthelemy Aguerre told Europe 1 radio. "I think we will prove our innocence and that of my associates. I think the government has been too quick."

A French inquiry found that Spanghero labelled meat as beef when it knew what it was processing may have been horse.

French Consumer Affairs Minister Benoit Hamon said Spanghero could not have failed to notice the meat it was importing was much cheaper than beef.

Dutch inspectors also began taking samples to discover whether meat shipments contained "bute".