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Horsemeat products were available to forecourts

13 February, 2013

One of the products in the horsemeat scandal was widely available to retailers in the forecourt sector and they have been urged to be vigilant and to keep checking for any other recalls.

All the symbol groups that responded to Forecourt Trader confirmed they had listed Findus Frozen Beef Lasagne, prior to it being withdrawn after it was found to contain horsemeat.

Musgrave Retail Partners GB said it had been listed by Londis, but not Budgens, Spar and Costcutter confirmed they had listed it, and Nisa had offered the 320g variant.

A Nisa spokesman said: “As soon as we were notified we removed it from our supply chain and advised retailers to destroy any product they held.” All the symbol groups said they had sent advice to their members.

Wholesaler Palmer and Harvey, which operates the Mace symbol group as well as distributing to about 6,000 forecourts, also supplied the affected Findus lines.

It wrote to its independent retail and symbol customers to alert them to the product recall on 4th February and asked them to remove the Findus lines from sale. It says its local distribution centres will handle all product returns and retailers will be credited for any re-called lines.

In a statement the company said: “Since the news of the contaminated meat story first appeared, we have been in regular contact with our meat suppliers and they have reassured us that their products have been tested and only contain what they are supposed to.

“From an own label perspective we are testing four processed mince lines in accordance with the Food Standards Agency’s advice. We are confident in the assurances we have had from the relevant suppliers that these lines are manufactured under strict conditions and comply with all legal requirements including FSA requirements.

“If retailers have any queries around specific product lines we advise them to either call us at head office on 01273 222100 or contact the supplier directly for the most up-to-the-minute news.”

The Association of Convenience Stores warned retailers to be cautious, but pointed out that other than the 320g, 360g and 500g Findus Frozen Beef Lasagne, nearly all the products that have been implicated so far have been supermarket own brands.

An ACS spokesman said the association had carried out a quick poll of about 30 members to find out whether they had listed any of products. He said: “Admittedly this was not a scientific survey, but none of these members were stocking any of the products involved.”

He said the ACS was not issuing its own guidance to members but it was distributing the Food Standards Agency guidelines through its website.

In a statement today, farming minister David Heath said: “Today I had a productive meeting with major retailers, food distributors and devolved administrations on our plan of action to deal with the problem of horsemeat in processed beef products.

“I reiterated that the current situation is totally unacceptable and that retailers, caterers and other food business operators need to be completely open with their customers.

“They assured me that they are on track to share meaningful test results by Friday and we discussed practical, pragmatics steps on how to take this forward.

“The Food Standards Agency will be informed immediately of any tests that show a positive contamination.

“All results will be analysed and if there is evidence of fraud then enforcement action will be taken against those responsible.”

For the latest information on any products that the Food Standards Agency has ordered to be withdrawn, retailers should log on to www.food.gov.uk.