Horse DNA detected in canned beef on UK shelves from Romania

The View from the UK: The Food Safety Authority (FSA) in the UK has been informed that a batch of canned sliced beef that was found to contain horse DNA has been withdrawn from sale. Horsemeat is not identified in the ingredients list and therefore it should not have been present in the product.

According to the FSA: “The canned beef was manufactured in Romania in January 2013 and supplied to Home Bargains (TJ Morris Ltd) and Quality Save stores in the UK. The 320g packs are described on the label as ‘Food Hall Sliced Beef in Rich Gravy’.”

The presence of horse DNA in the product was identified during routine testing carried out by Lincolnshire County Council trading standards officers. The product was found to contain horse DNA at a level of between one and five  per cent. It also tested negative for the presence of the drug phenylbutazone, known as bute. The affected batch has been withdrawn from sale.

The 2013 meat adulteration scandal is ongoing in Europe. Earlier this year foods advertised as containing beef were found to contain undeclared horsemeat, as much as 100 per cent of the meat content in some cases and other undeclared meats, such as pork. The issue came to light on 15 January, when it was reported that horse DNA had been discovered in frozen beefburgers sold in several Irish and British supermarkets.

While not a direct food safety issue, the scandal revealed a major breakdown in the traceability of the food supply chain, and therefore some risk that harmful ingredients were included.

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