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FSA confirms 352 clear results out of 362 tests for horse and pig DNA

26 March 2013 by

The Food Standards Agency (FSA) has confirmed the results of the first two phases of its UK-wide testing of beef products. It found that 352 samples out of 362 turned up negative for both horse and pig DNA.

Of the 10 samples remaining, the FSA said that three contained pig DNA at or above the 1% threshold. Those three products were Asda's spaghetti and meatballs, Asda beef cannelloni and Apetito beef lasagne.

Two others, a Whitbread burger and Ikea meatballs, have been confirmed as containing horse DNA above the 1% threshold, having previously been reported by the food industry's own testing results.

The last five samples have been challenged and are awaiting the outcome of further independent tests. Three of those disputed tests involve horse DNA, while two involve pig DNA.

The survey, carried out by 28 local authorities on the FSA's behalf, are consistent with tests from carried out by the food industry. The FSA said the contamination and adulteration of beef products had been "limited to a relatively small number of products".

"The FSA's view remains that consumers should be able to trust what they see on food labels and the agency is working with the local authorities where positive samples have been identified, with a view to taking enforcement action where necessary."

Meanwhile, Apetito last week issued a statement announcing that no horse meat had been found in its products following extensive tests. The company said it had conducted 113 DNA tests across its product range and found no equine DNA.

Chief executive Paul Freeston said: "Apetito and Wiltshire Farm Foods are 100% committed to producing high-quality, nutritious, safe and correctly labelled food in which our customers and end-customers have confidence.

"Unlike some prepared meal suppliers, we actually produce the vast majority of food we sell. For example, all our raw beef, lamb and pork is bought in as whole muscle from approved suppliers and then inspected, butchered (minced and diced) by Apetito's trained staff in our own on-site butchery."

However, Freeston was also forced to admit that in one case, Newtownabbey Borough Council in Northern Ireland had found a pack from one batch of Apetito's beef lasagne that included pork DNA at a level of 1-5%.

"We believe that the most likely explanation is accidental cross-contamination in our butchery or kitchens. We are investigating this. Over recent weeks, as part of our own testing programme, we have carried out two other DNA tests on other batches of this product and these have shown no pork contamination."

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