Pork found in Ikea’s elk lasagne

Swedish furniture giant Ikea halted sales of elkmeat lasagnes across all its European stores after a batch tested positive for pork in a Belgian lab.

Pork found in Ikea's elk lasagne

It was in late March that Belgian authorities discovered that the elk mince, produced by Swedish food manufacturer Familjen Dafgård and sold at Ikea stores, contained a bit over 1 percent pork, which is the limit for contamination of meat products.

An estimated 10,000 tonnes of lasagne stored in the furniture giant’s central warehouse and at its department stores have been blocked for sale, reported Swedish newspaper Svenska Dagbladet (SvD) on Saturday.

Ikea also withdrew a total of 17,600 packages of lasagne from its stores. All were produced at the Dafgård factory at the time the contamination is thought to have taken place.

Anders Lennartsson, head of sustainability at Ikea, told SvD that it is not yet clear how many packages of the pork-contaminate elk lasagne have been bought by customers, but he believes it’s a question of “small volumes”.

“The elkmeat lasagne production only started in January. Most products that could have traces of pork are in our warehouses and have not yet reached the department stores,” said Lennartsson.

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Ikea decided to withdraw the elk lasagnes from all its European stores on the day the test results came in, but the company did not tell customers why it was doing so.

“We followed company routines,” said Lennartsson.

“Since there were still many question marks, there were no grounds for informing the public while the investigation was ongoing. Now that it has been confirmed we will see how we can best communicate this.”

Dafgård also ordered its own tests that revealed four cases where the elkmeat lasagne contained small amounts of beef or pork.

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Dafgård put this down to a failure to clean the premises properly between the handling of different animals. The company said measures have been taken to ensure this is rectified.

In a letter to Sweden’s National Food Agency (Livsmedelsverket), Dafgård’s head of quality said that the company has introduced stricter routines to avoid mixing different animal species.

Ikea now plans to introduce a global standard for purchasing and processing meat products and to increase the number of supplier inspections.

Ikea has not yet decided what to do with the thousands of tonnes of elkmeat stored in its warehouses, but Lennartsson said one possibility is to re-label the packages to show they contain pork.

He said Ikea plans to inform the public about the Belgian lab find and encouraged concerned customers to get in touch.

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Ikea will buy back your used furniture at up to half the price

In the run-up to what would in normal times be the festive season sales rush, Ikea has vowed to buy back used furniture from customers to resell – and pay up to 50 percent of the original price.

Ikea will buy back your used furniture at up to half the price
Got any pieces of Ikea furniture at home? You may be able to get rid of it and get money back. Photo: Fredrik Sandberg/TT

Ikea, the world's largest furniture chain, said Tuesday it would begin buying back used furniture from customers to resell – and pay up to 50 percent of the original price.

The “Buy Back Friday” scheme, timed to coincide with the “Black Friday” pre-Christmas retail frenzy, will run from November 24th and until December 3rd in 27 countries.

“Rather than buy things you don't need this Black Friday, we want to help customers give their furniture a second life instead of making an impulse buy,” said Stefan Vanoverbeke, deputy retail operations manager at Ingka Group, Ikea's parent company.

To address concerns its affordable, flat-pack products encourage overconsumption and waste, the Swedish company had previously said it would start renting and recycling furniture as part of an eco-drive.

Under its buyback scheme, the group said that “anything that can't be resold will be recycled or donated to community projects to help those most affected by the Covid-19 pandemic”.

“Some countries like Australia and Canada for example are currently testing different buyback services, but BuyBack Friday will be the first time that 27 countries do this together,” the statement added.

The Swedish giant employs over 217,000 people and has more than 50 outlets. Its annual turnover is around 40 billion euros ($46 billion).

The group did not specify how it would determine the price paid for second-hand furniture and customers will receive a voucher, not cash, for their products.  

As part of efforts to reduce waste, Ikea has already begun repairing and re-packaging products in every store that have been damaged in transit, as well as allowing customers to return products – including furniture – for resale or donation to charities.