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Firm identifies horse meat source
Frozen food company Birds Eye has named an Irish meat processor as the source of horse meat contamination in three of its products.
Birds Eye said QK Meats supplied meat with horse in it to Frigilunch NV, which used it in products supplied to the company.
Frigilunch NV's own independent tests and investigation had confirmed Birds Eye's findings, which had been reported to the Food Standards Agency. Frigilunch NV had suspended QK Meats, which is based in Ireland, as a supplier of meat.
Birds Eye took its Spaghetti Bolognese 340g and Beef Lasagne 400g off shelves as a precaution on February 22 but tests later found that they did contain some horse DNA.
Birds Eye said in a statement: "We can now reassure you that our comprehensive DNA testing programme on all our beef meat products is complete. We have now tested all products multiple times through multiple samples over a period of four weeks. During this process none of our Birds Eye Beef Burgers, Beef Pies and Traditional Beef Dinners tested positive for horse DNA.
"In total we have tested 250 products across Europe and confirmed three products as containing horse meat. All other products across our beef range both sold here in the UK and in our other markets in Europe have now been given the all clear and we have submitted our test results to the FSA as requested. You can rest assured that all other suppliers to Birds Eye have also been given the all clear.
"We are pleased that we have now completed our investigation and been able to isolate the problem to one source."
The statement said Birds Eye had introduced a "triple lock" programme to ensure that no minced beef meat product can reach supermarket shelves without first having been cleared by three stages of DNA testing.
QK Meats said it has never knowingly put horse meat in its beef products and has launched a full investigation.
A company spokesman said: "Following the discovery of equine DNA in product allegedly supplied by QK Meats to Frigilunch NV, a supplier to Birds Eye, QK Meats has launched a full investigation into its supply chain."