February 26, 2013
It's been about a month since a factory in Ireland let the pony out of the stable and admitted to finding traces of equine DNA in beef patties it made for export to the United Kingdom.
Since then, people across Europe have discovered almost daily that at some point they probably were graced with an uninvited guest.
The latest discovery was made by the Swedish furniture giant IKEA. Inspectors in the Czech Republic said Monday they found traces of horse meat in frozen meatballs made in Sweden for the furniture maker.
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 were not affected, including to the USA, 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.
Over the weekend, horse meat was found on pizza in Denmark. Last week, Swiss food giant Nestle and frozen foodmaker Birds Eye were forced to withdraw products from supermarkets in Italy, Spain and the United Kingdom. Agriculture ministers from the European Union are meeting in Brussels on Monday to address the crisis. Some, like Germany's Ilse Aigner, see a solution in more stringent rules for labeling.
The Irish want more to be done about what they contend is often deliberate fraud. Owen Paterson, the U.K.'s environment minister, has said that he wants to see "concrete, coordinated action right across Europe."
In the age of the multiple-use factory, as well as meat sourcing from a multitude of suppliers, the European experience may not be unique.
"We (the U.S.) get meat from lots of countries," Marion Nestle, a food studies professor at New York University, said in an e-mail. "One U.S. Department of Agriculture study said that a single pound of hamburger meat might come from 400 different cows. If there was a lot of horse meat around, it could easily get mixed in if nobody checked."
Quality News Today is an ASQ member benefit offering quality related news
from around the world every business day.