Horsemeat scandal: With Nestle recall, European customers trust less
By Jay Keller
The horse meat scandal, which first emerged in the United Kingdom in January, has uncovered troubling food-safety issues that have prompted product recalls while testing the trust of European consumers.
As reports of horse DNA in beef products continue to emerge across Europe, consumers are less trusting of processed foods provided by major retail brands and walking away in favor of local, trusted butchers.
Nestlé is the latest company to come under fire after announcing on Monday plans to remove two chilled pasta products from sale in Italy and Spain immediately to be replaced with product confirmed by DNA testing to be made from 100 percent beef.
“There is no food safety issue, but the mislabeling of products means they fail to meet the very high standards consumers expect from us,” Nestlé said in a statement.
The Switzerland-based Nestlé said internal testing found “traces” of horse DNA in Buitoni Beef Ravioli and Beef Tortellini, products made with beef supplied by a German company named as H.J. Schypke.
Schypke, a processed meat wholesaler, released a statement Monday saying the company would never intentionally purchase horse meat and plans to test genetically in the future.
While there have been no concerns about beef products distributed in the U.S, consumers are likely paying closer attention to how the fraudulent labeling of beef products will play out across the pond.
The buying habits of European consumers have already shifted in the wake of the horse meat scandal.
A survey of U.K. consumers by research group Consumer Intelligence published over the weekend found that one in four people were skeptical about processed meat products,
The research also indicated that about 4.1 million people who previously bought processed meat said they would stop doing so altogether.
The exact number of Britons who unwittingly ate horsemeat will never be known, the head of the British Food Standards Agency told reporters over the weekend.
The Food Standards Agency on Saturday published the first set of industry results from beef products that have been tested for the presence of horse DNA.
The results showed 29 positives for horse DNA is “beef” product samples. Seven of these products were already reported to authorities and the FSA statement said the agency has “already taken appropriate action to remove the products from sale and notify consumers.”
The EU announced late last week plans to immediately begin testing for horse DNA in unlabeled meat products across the continent.
The case list grew over the weekend as reports of products containing horse meat were released across the U.K. and Ireland.
Officials in Northern Ireland said on Friday that horse meat was discovered in a batch of beef burgers supplied to hospitals by Irish food firm Rangeland Foods.
Rangeland Foods recalled batches of burger products which the company said contained beef from a supplier in Poland.
Whitbread, a pub and restaurant company, reported finding horse meat in products over the weekend and the Lancashire County Council confirmed horse DNA was found in cottage pies delivered to 47 schools.
More Horse Meat Scandal Articles:
Horse meat scandal: With Nestle recall, European customers trust less (February 19th, 2013)
Burger King says no horse meat in burgers; Tesco drops U.K. beef supplier (February 4th, 2013)
Burger King drops U.K. beef supplier over horse-meat scandal (January 24th, 2013)