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Nestle withdraws beef products after horsemeat traces found


Nestle has become the latest company hit by Europe's growing horsemeat scandal after traces of horse DNA were found in two of its meals. It has suspended deliveries from a German company that allegedly supplied the meat.

The world's biggest food company announced Monday that tests had found that two of its pasta ready meals contained more than one percent horse DNA. Nestle said it had responded by withdrawing its chilled Buitoni Beef Ravioli and Beef Tortellini from the shelves across Italy and Spain.

The Swiss-based company also said it had voluntarily withdrawn from sale frozen meat sold as Lasagnes la Bolognaise Gourmandes to catering businesses in France.

"We have informed the authorities accordingly," the Swiss-based company said in a statement on Monday, stressing there was "no food safety issue."

Nestle added that it was suspending deliveries of all products supplied by German subcontractor H.J. Schypke. It alleged that the firm had sold the contaminated meat to one of its suppliers.

The latest finding came as German discount chain Lidl pulled ready-made meals from the shelves of its Finnish, Danish and Swedish stores after tests confirmed the presence of horsemeat.

It joined German supermarkets Aldi Sd, Edeka, Kaisers and the frozen food home-delivery service Eismann who have all pulled products containing horsemeat falsely labeled as beef.

Alongside Germany, the scandal - which began in Great Britain and Ireland - has now hit Austria, Bulgaria, Denmark, Finland, France, Sweden, Switzerland and Norway.

German state and federal consumer protection ministers met in Berlin on Monday to discuss the escalating crisis. They adopted a plan to address the scandal surrounding tainted beef in major German supermarket chains.

The ministers from Germany's 16 states pressured the federal government to increase fines and penalties for companies that falsely label meat.

They also proposed that food companies be legally required to report cases of falsely labeled produce. Currently, food companies only have to report to state regulators when public health is at risk.

ccp/jm (AFP, Reuters, AP)

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