IKEA, the Swedish furniture giant, has been sucked up into the food labeling scandal rocking many European countries. On Monday, authorities reported that they had “detected horse meat in frozen meatballs.”
The labels described the meatballs as being made out of beef and pork. There was no mention to horse meet. The meatballs are sold in 13 countries in Europe.
The Czech State Veterinary Administration investigated the situation and discovered that horse meat was found in the one-kilogram (2.2 pound) packs of frozen meatballs that were made in Sweden. They were then shipped to the Czech Republic to be sold in the IKEA stores.
Officials prevented 1675 pounds of the meatballs from making it onto the shelves in the stores.
Ylva Magnusson, IKEA spokeswoman, revealed that meatballs from the same batch were sent to Slovakia, Hungary, France, Britain, Portugal, the Netherlands, Belgium, Spain, Italy, Greece, Cyprus and Ireland.
Magnusson went on to say that all of the meatballs from that batch have either been taken off the shelves or stopped from reaching their destinations. She stated that shipments of meatballs headed for the United States did not contain horse meat.
Magnusson stated, "Our global recommendation is to not recall or stop selling meatballs.” IKEA will be conducting their own investigation in order to validate the Czech Republic’s findings.
Ylva Magnusson claims that just two weeks ago IKEA found no trace of horse meat when they tested a sampling of frozen food including meatballs.
"But, of course, we take the tests that Czech authorities have done very seriously. We don't tolerate any other ingredients than those on the label”, she stated.
Authorities in Europe issued a statement reassuring people that the horse meat falls is a case of fraudulent labeling. They were adamant that the horse meat does not pose any health risks.
As to how the horse meat got into the frozen meatballs, Sweden’s National Food Agency employee Karin Cerenius said that, “If it’s [the horse meat] less than one percent, it could mean that they handled horsemeat at the same facility.”
“If it’s more, we assess that it’s been mixed into the product.”
EU member states are demanding tougher labeling rules. They feel it is the only way to regain the consumer’s confidence. However, it will take the 27 nation bloc must all agree.
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