Horse meat found in Ikea's Swedish meatballs
Swedish furniture giant Ikea was drawn into Europe's widening food labeling scandal Monday as authorities said they had detected horse meat in frozen meatballs labeled as beef and pork and sold in 13 countries across the continent.
The Czech State Veterinary Administration said that horse meat was found in one-kilogram (2.2 pound) packs of frozen meatballs made in Sweden and shipped to the Czech Republic for sale in Ikea stores there. A total of 760 kilograms (1,675 pounds) of the meatballs were stopped from reaching the shelves.
Ikea spokeswoman Ylva Magnusson said meatballs from the same batch had gone out to Slovakia, Hungary, France, Britain, Portugal, the Netherlands, Belgium, Spain, Italy, Greece, Cyprus and Ireland. Magnusson said meatballs from that batch were taken off the shelves in Ikea stores in all those countries. Other shipments of meatballs were not affected, including to the U.S., even though they all come from the same Swedish supplier, Magnusson said.
"Our global recommendation is to not recall or stop selling meatballs," she said.
However, the company's Swedish branch announced on its Facebook page that it won't sell or serve any meatballs at its stores in Sweden out of concern for "potential worries among our customers."
Magnusson said Ikea saw no reason to extend that guidance globally. She said Ikea was conducting its own tests of the affected batch "to validate" the Czech results. She also said that two weeks ago Ikea tested a range of frozen food products, including meatballs, and found no traces of horse meat.
European authorities have said the horse meat found in lasagna and other prepared dishes is a case of fraudulent labeling but does not pose a health risk.
Ikea's trademark blue-and-yellow stores typically feature a restaurant that serves traditional Swedish food, including meatballs served with boiled or mashed potatoes, gravy and lingonberry jam. Meatballs - "Kottbullar" in Swedish - are also available in the frozen foods section.
Magnusson said all of the meatballs are supplied by Gunnar Dafgard AB, a family-owned frozen foods company in southwestern Sweden. Calls to the company were not immediately returned, but it posted a brief statement on its website saying "the batch in question has been blocked and we are investigating the situation."
European Union officials were meeting Monday to discuss tougher food labeling rules after the discovery of horse meat in a range of frozen supermarket meals such as burgers and lasagna that were supposed to contain beef or pork.
The 27-nation bloc must agree on binding origin disclosures for food product ingredients, starting with a better labeling of meat products, German Agriculture Minister Ilse Aigner said.
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