Ikea withdraws meatballs after horsemeat found

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Swedish furniture giant Ikea has withdrawn its restaurant meatballs from Britain and 12 other countries after horsemeat was found in one export batch.

Horse was originally discovered in one-kilo packs of frozen meatballs made in Sweden and shipped to the Czech Republic for sale in stores there. A total of 760 kilos (1,675lbs) of the meatballs were stopped from reaching the shelves.

Ikea said meatballs from the same batch had gone to Britain, Slovakia, Hungary, France, Portugal, the Netherlands, Belgium, Spain, Italy, Greece, Cyprus and Ireland. They have been taken off the shelves in Ikea stores in all those countries..

The company’s Swedish branch also announced it would not sell or serve any meatballs at its stores in Sweden out of concern for “potential worries among our customers.”

A spokeswoman said Ikea saw no reason to extend that guidance globally. She said Ikea was conducting its own tests of the affected batch and that two weeks ago Ikea tested a range of frozen food products, including meatballs, and found no traces of horse.

Ikea’s stores feature restaurants and also sell typical Swedish food, including the Kottbullar meatballs.

The Czechs also announced they found horsemeat in beef burgers imported from Poland during random tests of food products.

Spanish authorities, meanwhile, announced that traces of horse were found in a beef cannelloni product by one of the brands of Nestle, a Switzerland-based food giant. The Agriculture Ministry said it was a case of fraudulent labelling but represented no health threat.

Nestle Spain said that after carrying out tests on meat supplied to its factories in Spain it was withdrawing six “La Cocinera” products and one “Buitoni” product from store shelves.

It said it was taking the action after the traces of horse were found in beef bought from a supplier in central Spain. Nestle said it was taking legal action against the company, adding that the products would be replaced by ones with 100% beef.