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Food giant Nestle recalls products after horse meat discovery

By CNN Staff
February 19, 2013 -- Updated 1602 GMT (0002 HKT)
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • NEW: No information to suggest donkey meat is in the food chain, UK food agency says
  • NEW: France partially lifts a suspension on Spanghero
  • Nestle is one of the world's largest food companies
  • It said it found some horse meat in some of the beef it tested

(CNN) -- Nestle is suspending deliveries of all its products that include beef from a German supplier because "traces of horse DNA" were found in the meat, the Swiss-based food giant said on its website Monday.

Nestle also is recalling two chilled pasta products, Buitoni Beef Ravioli and Beef Tortellini, from store shelves in Italy and Spain, the news release said. A lasagna product sold to French catering businesses will also be recalled.

"Our tests have found traces of horse DNA in two products made from beef supplied by H.J. Schypke," the statement said. "The levels found are above the one percent threshold the UK's Food Safety Agency uses to indicate likely adulteration or gross negligence."

The company said there are no food safety issues and it had notified the authorities.

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H.J. Schypke is a subcontractor of JBS Toledo N.V., a Belgian supplier.

Opinion: Scandal shines spotlight on murky horse trade

Unauthorized horse meat has been discovered in a variety of products labeled as beef that were sold in supermarkets in countries including Britain, France, Sweden, Switzerland, Germany and Ireland.

Also on Monday, the French government lifted a suspension tied to the production of minced meat, sausages and ready-made meals at Spanghero. The French firm will still not be allowed to stock frozen raw meat.

Spanghero should have known that the meat it labeled as beef was actually horse, French Consumer Affairs Minister Benoit Hamon has said.

Spanghero was the first company to label the meat as beef, the minister said, adding that 750 tons of horse meat were involved over a period of at least six months.

Spanghero should have identified the meat as horse from its Romanian customs code, as well as its appearance, smell and price, he said.

Horse meat concerns date to February 2012, officials say

A Spanghero representative has told CNN the company had acted in good faith. "The company has never ordered horse meat, and we never knowingly sold horse meat," the representative said.

The affair has been passed to the Paris prosecutor to be investigated as fraud, Hamon said. The offense is punishable by up to two years in prison and fines of up to €187,500 (about $250,000) for the companies involved.

Meanwhile, UK Environment Secretary Owen Paterson met with representatives of food businesses to talk about the response to the horse meat scandal.

"I welcome the food businesses' commitment to testing their products. They all assured me that they will not rest until they have established the full picture. There is still much to be done to find out exactly how this happened and how it can be prevented from happening again, and to do everything possible to reassure consumers about the food on our shelves," he said in a statement after the meeting.

Paterson said the representatives "agreed to do their level best to report back as many testing results as possible" to the Food Standards Agency by Friday.

Separately, the agency told CNN that it has no information to suggest donkey meat is in the food chain.

The meat industry was first thrust into the spotlight last month when Irish investigators found horse and pig DNA in hamburger products. The discovery of pig DNA in beef products is of particular concern to Jews and Muslims, whose dietary laws forbid the consumption of pork products. Jewish dietary laws also ban the consumption of horse meat.

First UK test reveals scope of horse meat contamination

CNN's Nic Robertson contributed to this report.

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