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HORSE

Swedish horsemeat scandal grows

After Swedish company Findus' withdrawal of its frozen single-portion lasagne, food retailers Axfood, Coop and Ica have pulled ready meals from supermarkets for fear they may contain horsemeat.

Swedish horsemeat scandal grows

The company behind the retailers’ withdrawn products used meat from the slaughterhouse that supplied meat for Findus’ recalled single-portion beef lasagne.

Axfood, Coop and Ica are therefore concerned that some of the products sold in their supermarkets, which are labelled as beef lasagnes, may actually contain horsemeat.

The products are Eldorado Lasagne Bolognese 1 kilo, Willys Lasagne Bolognese 400 gram, Hemköp Lasagne Bolognese 400 gram, Coop lasagne 400 gram, and Ica Basic 400 gram.

“We suspect that the mince could contain horsemeat, but it has not been confirmed yet by the supplier,” Johanna Stiernstedt, quality manager at Ica, told the TT news agency.

Like Findus, Axfood sent samples of meat for analysis, but the lab has not yet confirmed the company’s suspicions.

All affected food companies have insisted that there is no health risk involved in eating the horsemeat.

Findus had to recall beef lasagne ready meals in the UK too after tests there showed that they contained up to 99 percent horsemeat, reported the Guardian newspaper.

In France, Findus withdrew moussaka and cottage pie meals from the supermarkets.

Findus’ ready meals are produced in Luxembourg by the French manufacturer Comigel.

Erich Lehagre, the director of Comigel, told AFP that the horsemeat came from a Rumanian slaughterhouse and was delivered to Comigel via the French meat handling company Spanghero.

Comigel delivers frozen meals to 16 countries, including Scandinavia.

The British Food Standards Agency (FSA) said the Findus lasagne is probably not dangerous but ordered tests to determine whether it contains the common horse painkiller phenylbutazone, often known as bute, which is banned from entering the food chain.

Henrik Nyberg, head of production at Findus in Sweden, said the company has not yet decided what actions to take against Comigel.

“We have put a lot of pressure on this supplier,” Nyberg said.

“What is already clear is that Comigel’s subcontractor will never again deliver meat to Findus. We demand certificates and verifications from our suppliers and we carry out regular quality controls. It was at one of these controls that the supplier noticed the error,” Nyberg explained.

All other beef suppliers have assured Findus that there is no horsemeat in their products.

Swedish customers with the product at home have been advised to return it, or to contact Findus online or by telephone.

TT/The Local/nr Follow The Local on Twitter

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CLIMATE

Why does Sweden’s love for vegetarianism create an appetite for objection?

A number of schools in Sweden have cut meat from their menus in recent years, sometimes provoking strong reactions, and companies have also experienced backlashes.

Why does Sweden’s love for vegetarianism create an appetite for objection?
File photo: Björn Larsson Rosvall/TT

The cultural and historical position of meat as a staple of the national diet is a major reason for opposition to modern trends which promote vegetarianism, according to researcher Richard Tellström, an associate professor in food and meal science and an ethnologist at Stockholm University.

“Meat has always had a high status,” Tellström told TT.

When IT company Telavox recently announced it was dropping meat from its events and meetings, it came in for criticism from a number of customers, with some even saying they wanted to cancel contracts.

“This turned out to be a sensitive topic, perhaps more sensitive than I envisaged,” the company’s HR manager Filip Johansson said.

The decision by Telavox was not an attack on the meat industry, but an attempt to raise the issue of the effect of meat consumption on the climate, he said.

“It’s actually quite a soft action, but some people consider it an affront. They react to what they see as pointed fingers and forced changes. But we have also had positive reactions, so you have to weight things up,” the HR manager added.

Some municipalities in Sweden have trialled removing meat from school dining rooms on some days of the week. At a school on Orust, teachers protested that vegetarian lunches resulted in tired children who could not concentrate on lessons, GT/Expressen reported earlier in the year.

In other areas, parents have resisted vegetarian lunches in schools. In Mörbylånga, a mother called for “honest home cooking” in response to a vegetarian day at her son’s school, and reported the school’s headmaster to the local municipality, saying her child had been left hungry by the food that was served, local media Barometern reported in April.

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“If I deprive you of the right to practise your culture, you will naturally feel offended. And food is as culturally loaded as clothes, books, art and music,” Tellström said.

Historically, meat has been in short supply, and this is part of the reason it has a valued status in Sweden, the associate professor said.

Swedes are so secular and rational in their values that they easily forget food is an expression of those values, Tellström also noted, saying this is a reason why banning or excluding meat can provoke strong reactions.

At the same time, there is a growing trend towards opting not to eat meat, particularly amongst young people in urban areas.

“This is an urban phenomenon, and more and more people live in cities. We can also see a clear distinction between the food cultures of younger and older people, and also between men and women, in a way we haven’t seen before,” the researcher said.

“I think we should be careful about limiting people’s cultural expressions and speaking on their behalf about how to create a better world,” he added.

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