Wholesalers reassure customers in wake of ‘horsemeat’ scandal

Wholesalers were this week seeking to reassure both foodservice and retail customers amid the on-going controversy surrounding processed ‘beef’ products found to contain horsemeat and pork.

Many leading companies have issued statements to distance themselves from the French ready-meal producer Comigel currently at the centre of the Findus scandal to assure customers they are carrying out product tests as demanded by the Food Standards Agency.

Wholesalers, along with the rest of the food industry, were originally given until the end of this week (February 15) to report back on the provenance of their own-label beef products, however such is the extent of testing required the FSA is asking only that testing be underway. Results are expected to be issued as they become available.

Wholesaler statements:

Booker spokesperson: “Booker takes the quality and safety of our products very seriously. Our own-label products are not supplied by any of the companies affected by the horse meat contamination, however we are engaged with our suppliers regarding these issues.  Following the FSA’s announcement, we will be undergoing further testing of our own-label products. On Young’s instruction earlier this week, we withdrew one Findus branded retail Lasagne (320g) which had been found to contain Equine DNA.  We would advise all independent retailers to return them to the store where they purchased them.”

Creed Foodservice spokesperson: “Through our membership of the CountryRange group, Creed Foodservice is currently working closely with Dr Ron Kill at Micron2 with regards to the on-going non-bovine DNA issue. Dr Ron Kill is a member of the BRC, which is in turn a member of the FSA. Therefore rest assured, we are receiving up-to-date information and the best professional advice. Since the original occurence of the presence of non-bovine DNA in meat products highlighted in January 2013, Creed Foodservice has had assurances from all our suppliers of Country RAnge own brand meat products that there is no presence of non-bovine DNA in beef products. This has included both traceability exercises and some product testing. Given the situation that has arisen more recently (February) with certain products having a very high level of equine DNA in beef products, Creed Foodservice, through its membership of the Country Range group has aligned itself with the requirements of the FSA to ensure authenticity and legality of our products….we will be testing all relevant products for the presence of non-bovine DNA to ensure that they continue to meet legal requirements and our own high standards.”

Bestway trading director Kaiser Yousaf: “We recognise that shoppers and independent retailers are naturally concerned about this issue. It does not affect our own label products, though of course we remain vigilant.  We continue to operate rigorous quality control procedures.  The situation regarding Findus has been fully communicated by the company.  We have complied with the notification by Findus and the FSA to remove all the affected lasagne products from our depots, and retailers have been instructed to remove the products from the shelves.  Members of public have been advised to return any product to where they bought it from.”

Landmark Wholesale spokesperson: “Landmark Wholesale is fully aware of the problems associated with Findus Beef Lasagne products and, in accordance with procedures for any product recall, has asked all members to remove these products from their depots with immediate effect. We are monitoring the issue carefully and will act promptly to ensure that we not only comply with all legal requirements but that we also maintain the trust of our customers and end-users.”

3663 spokesperson: “As a major national distributor of both branded and own label to the catering and hospitality industry, 3663 makes it clear to every supplier that products supplied should only include declared ingredients. 3663 invests heavily in quality assurance to do the utmost to protect the integrity of its product range. Having already conducted extensive checks across its range and its suppliers, 3663 can assure the catering and hospitality industry that:

  • the company does not  have any direct links with the sources mentioned in the media for the presence of horsemeat in the food chain
  • to date all of the tests 3663 has carried out for the presence of horsemeat have proved to be negative
  • it is already a core requirement for all suppliers of 3663 to provide assurance that the products they are supplying do not contain any undeclared meats and are in line with the ingredients declaration supplied with the products

In addition, following meetings between industry representatives, the FSA and DEFRA, 3663 can confirm that the following steps will be taken:

  • tests already carried out for the presence of horsemeat will be submitted to the FSA this week
  • all 3663 own brand products that contain chopped and/or minced (comminuted) beef as an ingredient have already been sent for testing in line with FSA recommendations
  • 3663 is re-contacting all suppliers of products that contain comminuted beef to ensure that they test these products in line with the new FSA requirements

3663 will of course review the need to test further products following the results of this first phase of testing and any changing requirements from the FSA.”

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