Schools, care homes and Armed Forces supplied by firm selling contaminated beef
Sodexo, which supplies to 2,300 outlets, is withdrawing beef from its UK sites “with immediate effect” as the scale of the scandal widened yet further today.
In a second wave of tests, the products linked to samples containing horse DNA were Sodexo’s beef burgers, minced beef and halal minced beef, Asda’s chilled beef bolognese sauce and a Whitbread Group lasagne and beef burger.
The catering at Ascot Racecourse, which is attended each year by the Queen, is run by Sodexo Prestige, according to the firm’s website, and the company won four awards in last year’s National Racecourse Catering Awards for its food.
A Sodexo spokeswoman would not confirm which of its sites had been supplied with the frozen products however.
She also declined to name the supplier of the beef products that tested positive for horse DNA and would not say if it was a British or Irish manufacturer.
Sodexo describes itself as “the UK’s largest event caterer and provider of corporate hospitality packages”.
It has launched an investigation into how beef products were contaminated with horse.
In a statement, the firm said: “Sodexo has had a proactive programme in place to ensure that there is no horsemeat in its supply chain.
“We demanded written assurances from across our supply chain that the products we purchase did not contain horsemeat, and additionally implemented an internal sampling programme.
“Despite repeated guarantees from our suppliers, our sampling has identified a frozen beef product which tested positive for equine DNA. This situation is totally unacceptable.
“We felt the only appropriate response was to withdraw not only this product but all frozen beef products. We will only re-admit into our catering operations products that have affirmatively passed DNA testing, pursuant to laboratory test criteria.”
Sodexo said its Tillery Valley Foods business, which supplies meals to the healthcare sector, was not affected.
The company’s part in the horsemeat scandal was revealed today when the Food Standards Agency released the latest tranche of test results submitted by the food industry.
They showed that out of 1,133 meat products checked, six – including Sodexo’s – were positive for horse.
It is the latest in a growing list of businesses to announce that its products have tested positive for equine DNA.
Earlier today, Birds Eye said it was withdrawing three beef ready meals from sale in the UK and Ireland. The move follows tests that found 2% of horse DNA in a chilli con carne dish sold by Birds Eye in Belgium.
Birds Eye’s spaghetti bolognese, shepherd’s pie and lasagne are made by the same Belgian manufacturer, Frigilunch N.V., and are being withdrawn “as a precautionary measure”