LONDON Frozen food maker Birds Eye said it would withdraw some products in Britain and Ireland after it found traces of horse DNA in one of its ready meals sold in Belgium.
The discovery of horsemeat in food labelled as beef has triggered product recalls and damaged confidence in Europe's vast and complex food industry. The scandal erupted last month when tests carried out in Ireland revealed that some beef products also contained horsemeat.
"Regrettably, we have found one product, chilli con carne, produced for us by Frigilunch N.V. and sold in Belgium, that has tested positive for horse DNA at 2 percent," Birds Eye said in a statement.
"As a precautionary measure in the UK and Ireland we will withdraw all other products produced by the same supplier, namely traditional spaghetti bolognese (340g), shepherd's pie (400g) and beef lasagne (400g)."
The group said it would also withdraw a total of eight product lines in Belgium as well as one chilli con carne product in the Netherlands as a precautionary measure.
Private equity group Permira's frozen food brands include Birds Eye in Britain, Iglo, which trades across much of continental Europe, and Findus in Italy.
Birds Eye added that the withdrawn products would not be replaced on supermarket shelves until it had completed an investigation into the issue and had complete confidence in Frigilunch N.V.
Contacted by Reuters, Frigilunch declined to comment beyond saying it would issue a statement soon.
Birds Eye said tests showed its beef burgers, beef pies and beef platters sold in Britain and Ireland did not contain horse DNA.
(Reporting by Rhys Jones; Additional Reporting by Charlie Dunmore; Editing by Neil Maidment and Helen Massy-Beresford)