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Ikea stops meatball sales after horsemeat report

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Ikea stops meatball sales after horsemeat report
11:44 CET+01:00
Ikea has stopped sales of its Swedish meatballs in at least 15 countries after reports that Czech inspectors found horsemeat in the iconic in-store restaurant fare, which would mark the first time the scandal has reached food produced in Sweden.

"We have today been informed that our meatballs could contain traces of horsemeat, based on a test done in the Czech Republic," the company said in a

statement.

"Considering the possible concern among our customers, we are now stopping all sales and serving of our meatballs across the country."

According to Ikea, its own tests have not revealed any traces of horsemeat in its meatballs, but it promised to "investigate further".

"We take this very seriously and have withdrawn one-kilo bags of frozen meatballs from Slovakia, the Czech Republic, Hungary, France, Britain, Portugal, Italy, the Netherlands, Belgium, Spain, Cyprus, Greece and Ireland," in addition to Sweden, company spokeswoman Ylva Magnusson told the AFP news agency.

The product had also been removed from shelves in Denmark, according to Dorte Hjorth Harder, spokeswoman for Ikea Denmark.

The batch of one-kilogramme (2.2 pounds) frozen meatballs had been pulled from shelves due to "customer concerns", Ikea said.

Czech news agency CTK reported on Monday that inspectors had found traces of horsemeat in meatballs made for the Ikea Group.

The Czech inspectors have reported their findings to the EU's Rapid Alert System for Food and Feed, according to the Reuters news agency.

"Horse-DNA has been found, and how we need to find what percentage of horsemeat we're dealing with. We know that something that shouldn't be there is there. But how much, that's still an open question," Josef Duben, a spokesman for Czech agriculture authorities, told the TT news agency.

The tests in the Czech Republic were carried out on a 760 kilogramme batch of meatballs to be delivered to an Ikea store in Brno, about 200 kilometres from Prague.

The meatballs were supposed to contain beef and pork, but the tests revealed traces of horsemeat as well.

Most of the meatballs sold at Ikea's stores in Europe are manufactured by Swedish food producer Familjen Dafgård, located in central Sweden.

"They've been told by Czech authorities that three tests have been done and that in one case horsemeat was found. But they don't know how much horsemeat was involved," Karin Cerenius of Sweden's National Food Agency (Livsmedelsverket), who has been in contact with Dafgård, told TT.

Dafgård said in a statement it was performing its own DNA tests on the batch and that the meatballs had been "blocked" from distribution.

Dafgård also makes meatballs for Swedish grocer Coop, but those meatballs aren't produced with Swedish meatballs destined for Ikea stores, according to Coop.

Both Dafgård and Coop have carried out DNA tests that failed to reveal any traces of horsemeat.

Should the test results be confirmed, it would mark the first time horsemeat has been found in food produced in Sweden.

The news comes as EU agriculture ministers meet in Brussels to discuss the ongoing horsemeat scandal.

According to Eskil Erlandsson, Sweden's minister of agriculture, retailers should also take responsibility for their role in the scandal.

"We'll almost certainly discuss the need for parties in the chain to also carry out inspections so that it's not only the official inspections that are carried out," he told the TT news agency.

"The production chain also has a responsibility, especially retailers, which are closest to the consumers."

TT/The Local/AFP/dl/at

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