Swedish furniture retailer Ikea has halted sales of its meatballs in Hong Kong, following similar moves elsewhere in the world, after overseas batches of the product were found to contain horse meat.
Ikea stopped selling meatballs temporarily at its three stores in the city to "relieve potential worries among customers", the company said yesterday.
The product imported into Hong Kong was not from the same batches as the affected meat, although all came from the same Swedish supplier.
"As a further precaution, more tests will be conducted on meatball supplies," a spokeswoman said.
The company reacted after the Czech Republic said it had detected horse DNA in tests of 1kg packs of frozen meatballs that were labelled as beef and pork, including some that were made for Ikea.
The Czech State Veterinary Administration said one of two batches of Ikea meatballs it tested contained horse meat. It did not say how much.
In Hong Kong, the furniture chain posted notices at its three branches saying the immediate stop in sales was made "in view of test results from the Czech Republic authorities showing indications of traces of horse meat".
Consumers reacted differently to the news of the Czech discovery. Catherine Chan, 19, said she would not mind eating horse if it was hygienic.
Ying Lin, 20, was more upset: "Eating horse meat is like eating dog meat. Compared to other animals, horses are more intimate with humans."
According to reports, the affected product had been sent from the Swedish supplier to 12 other European countries, namely Slovakia, Hungary, France, Britain, Portugal, the Netherlands, Belgium, Spain, Italy, Greece, Cyprus and Ireland.
Besides Hong Kong, Ikea had expanded the product recalls to 21 European countries, Thailand and the Dominican Republic, which all imported meatballs from the same supplier.
The Centre for Food Safety said it was maintaining close contact with European Union authorities over the incident.
When asked if the centre had tested beef samples in Hong Kong for horse meat, it said only that food tests were run at the import, wholesale and retail levels.
Additional reporting by Associated Press