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Swiss stores yank more ‘horsemeat’ products

Swiss retailers pulled seven Hilcona brand products containing horsemeat from store shelves on Monday as the scandal over falsely labelled meat continued to grow.

Swiss stores yank more 'horsemeat' products

Coop, Manor and Volg were among the chains to remove the products advertised as containing beef.

The products included two kinds of prepared chopped beef meal, beef spaghetti, a Sugo brand tomato sauce with beef, a “Combino Tortelloni” and hot chili.

Coop said it was informed by Hilcona, a Liechtentsein company, that certain ingredients provided by German supplier Vossko could contain horsemeat.

Laboratory tests showed the presence of horsemeat in four products sold by Coop, which the supermarket chain withdrew from sale.

The cooperative, which indirectly owns part of Hilcona, said it would be reintroducing the products progressively starting February 20th using Swiss meat.

Last week, the second largest retailer in Switzerland withdrew frozen beef lasagne packaged under its own brand from sale over horsemeat concerns.

The concerns were later confirmed over the lasagne, produced by Comigel, a French company implicated in the “horsegate” scandal in Britain and elsewhere in Europe.

Coop vowed to intensify its quality checks with suppliers and offered to reimburse customers who had already bought the affected products.

Laboratories for different Swiss cantons conducted tests on around 100 prepared foods, including lasagne, cannelloni, Bolognaise sauce and hamburgers.

On Friday, the association of cantonal chemists announced that it had not found any traces of horsemeat in the products it tested.

However, Pierre Bonhôte, Neuchâtel cantonal chemist, told Radio Télévision Suisse (RTS) the group had only selected a small sample of the thousands of products available because “we needed to get a quick overview of the situation”.

No further tests are envisaged for the moment and food distributors are being called on to check their suppliers.

Discount supermarket chain Lidl has withdrawn a range of Hilcona products from its shelves at stores in Germany and Austria but not in Switzerland.

Meanwhile, Swiss-based Nestlé, the world's biggest food company, announced on Monday that is was recalling pasta meals from supermarket shelves in Italy and Spain due to horsemeat contamination.

The company pulled its Buitoni beef ravioli and beef tortellini from sale in the two countries, in addition to a frozen meat product for catering busineses, produced in France.

As in other countries in continental Europe, horsemeat is regarded as an acceptable food, even a delicacy in some quarters, with specialty butchers devoted to selling it in many communities.

Unlike in Britain, where horsemeat does not have the same acceptance, the scandal in Switzerland is centred on false labelling of food products.

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Spaniard wins Romandie opener in snowy conditions

Spaniard Ion Izagirre was a surprise winner of the opening prologue of Switzerland's Tour de Romandie on Tuesday.

Spaniard wins Romandie opener in snowy conditions
Ion Izagirre celebrates his win. Photo: Fabrice Coffrini/AFP
The 27-year-old Movistar rider covered the technical 3.95km course in 5min 33sec to beat Dutch time-trial specialist Tom Dumoulin by six seconds.
   
Poland's Michal Kwiatkowski was third at 7sec in the same time as his Welsh Sky team-mate Geraint Thomas, but their team leader Chris Froome struggled.
   
The Tour de France champion finished 26sec down in 62nd after his run was hampered by snowfall at La Chaux-de-Fonds.
   
Froome suggested in a series of messages on Twitter before the stage that he was unhappy with being forced to race in such conditions, pointing out that the person charged with making a decision concerning the weather was the brother of the race organiser.
   
In response to a tweet from the riders' body CPA announcing that David Chassot was the delegate for extreme weather protocols, Froome tweeted that his brother Richard Chassot was in overall charge.
   
“The brother of the race organizer @RChassot? Conflict of interest?” wrote Froome on Twitter.
   
“That's one way to get your race to go ahead without those pesky concerns about rider safety,” he added.
 
Froome lost time on other overall favourites including Nairo Quintana (18th at 16sec), Thibaut Pinot (11th at 12sec), Romain Barrdet (27th at 18sec) and 2011 winner Simon Spilak (36th at 22sec).
   
But reigning champion Ilnur Zakarin of Russia struggled even more than Briton Froome and finished 75th at 30sec while Australian Richie Porte was 101st at 37sec, although his BMC team-mate Tejay Van Garderen managed a strong run to come ninth at just 11sec.
   
“There was a window of pretty good roads and I think I got a bit lucky as Richie and some of the later guys in the last wave didn't get so lucky, but that's kind of prologues isn't it?” said Van Garderen.
   
Porte added: “It's a little bit disappointing. I think it was the luck of the draw with the weather.”
   
Wednesday's opening stage proper is 167km from Chaux-de-Fonds to Moudon.
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