LONDON – Britain’s food scare over lasagna with horse meat spread to several other European countries Friday, and officials said they suspected criminal activity was behind the growing scandal.
Swedish food giant Findus pulled various frozen meals from store shelves in France and Sweden, a day after beef lasagna found to contain up to 100 percent horse meat was uncovered in Britain.
Meanwhile, British supermarket chain Aldi announced Friday that two ready-made meals contained similar quantities of the meat.
The meals were all produced in Luxembourg for French supplier Comigel. The company said the horse meat had originated in a Romanian slaughterhouse.
Britain Prime Minister David Cameron called the scandal “completely unacceptable” and authorities said police had met with the U.K.’s Food Standards Agency to discuss the matter.
British Environment Minister Owen Paterson said he would hold a “horse meat summit” with the FSA and retailers to tackle the problem.
“I’ve got a nasty feeling it’s actually a criminal conspiracy and that’s why it’s quite right for the FSA to engage the Metropolitan Police, who are working with other police forces across the mainland of Europe,” Paterson told the BBC.
He said there was no health risk from the meals and said he would eat them himself.
The FSA announced Thursday that 11 of 18 samples of Findus beef lasagna were found to contain between 60 to 100 percent horse meat. A Findus spokesman told the Guardian newspaper that it was told by Comigel about the horse meat Feb. 2 but did not issue a product recall then, citing “a question of logistics.”
Aldi announced Friday that tests on its Today’s Special brand of frozen beef lasagna and frozen spaghetti bolognese determined that they too contained between 30 and 100 percent horse meat.
Comigel Director Erich Lehagre said the horse meat originated from a Romanian slaughterhouse and was provided to Comigel by the France-based Spanghero meat-processing firm.
The meals were then produced in Luxembourg by the supplier Tavola.