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UK Tightens Grip over Horse Meat Contamination

13 February 2013

UK - The British Food Standards Agency has started a system of 'positive release' for horses slaughtered in the UK.

This means that horse carcases will require a negative phenylbutazone (bute) test before they are allowed to enter the food chain.

The Agency has developed a testing regime, which enables results to come through in approximately 48 hours from when the test is carried out.

The carcase will be kept in storage by the responsible food business, pending the result. If the test result is negative, the horse will be released into the food chain; however, if the horse tests positive for bute it will be disposed of as animal by-product under the authority of the FSA.

Meanwhile, UK supermarket chain, Tesco has announced that it has found horse meat in some Everyday Value Spaghetti Bolognese.

It carried out a number of tests following the product's withdrawal from sale on a precautionary basis.

Tesco says that of the positive results, most are at a trace level of less than one per cent but three showed significant levels of horse DNA, exceeding 60 per cent. The company also tested the horse meat for 'bute' and the results were negative.

Tim Smith, Group Technical Director, said: "A week ago Tesco withdrew a frozen Everyday Value Spaghetti Bolognese product from sale. We did this as a precaution because Findus products from the same factory were reportedly at risk of containing horse meat.

"Since then, we have carried out a number of tests on the product and those tests identified the presence of horse DNA. Of the positive results, most are at a trace level of less than one poer cent but three showed significant levels of horse DNA, exceeding 60 per cent. We have carried out further tests to ensure that there is no danger to health through the presence of potentially harmful bute. The test for bute was clear.

"The frozen Everyday Value Spaghetti Bolognese should contain only Irish beef from our approved suppliers. The source of the horsemeat is still under investigation by the relevant authorities. The level of contamination suggests that Comigel was not following the appropriate production process for our Tesco product and we will not take food from their facility again.

"We are very sorry that we have let customers down. We set ourselves high standards for the food we sell and we have had two cases in recent weeks where we have not met those standards. Our DNA testing programme is underway and will give us and our customers assurance that the product they buy is what it should be."

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