Swiss stores yank more ‘horsemeat’ products

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.

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Discount supermarket chain Lidl has withdrawn a range of Hilcona products from its shelves at stores in Germany and Austria but not in Switzerland.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