Birds Eye recalls horse-DNA-tainted ready meals

The food manufacturer has withdrawn three 'beef' ready meals from supermarkets across the UK and Ireland after its chilli con carne was found to contain 2% horse. Chilli con cavallo, more like.

by Rebecca Burn-Callander
Last Updated: 02 Jan 2014
The offending chilli is only sold in Belgium but Birds Eye is withdrawing all products made by Belgian supplier Frigilunch (not really a name that promises gastronomic bliss…), as a precautionary measure.
Its Traditional Spaghetti Bolognese, Shepherd's Pie and Beef Lasagne products are being hurriedly removed from supermarket shelves as we speak. But before you hurl all your Bird’s Eye burgers in the bin, note that the company has tested all of its beef burgers, beef pies and beef platters and none have been found to contain horse DNA. No word from the firm over whether they contain seagull retina, however.

A statement from Birds Eye reads: ‘Whilst this is not a food safety issue, it is clearly unacceptable.’

Birds Eye is the latest brand to join Findus, Nestle, Tesco, Lidl, Iceland and Aldi in the great 2012 horse meat scandal. The Food Standards Agency has asked all UK food retailers to test the beef in thousands of their products after the horse turned up in Tesco beef burgers last month. The first results were released last week, and showed that 29 out of 2,501 ‘beef’ products contained varying levels of horse meat (at least 1%).  

According to Brindon Addy, chairman of the Q Guild, which represents 130 butchers across England, Scotland and Wales, the fiasco has been a godsend for the local butcher, as consumers spurn the processed meat sold in supermarkets for traditional cuts. And Asda chief executive Andy Clarke has revealed that the Walmart-owned supermarket giant has seen a jump in sales of vegetable ready meals and quorn in the wake of the horsemeat controversy.  Meanwhile, the price of burgers has shot up by 14% as manufacturers switch to higher-quality meat and transparent supply chains.

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