Horsemeat found in IKEA’s Swedish meatballs

Updated 27 February 2013
0

Horsemeat found in IKEA’s Swedish meatballs

STOCKHOLM: Swedish furniture giant Ikea has withdrawn some of its meatballs from sale in at least 15 European countries after horsemeat was found in the product by Czech authorities, the company said Monday.

 

Czech authorities said yesterday they have detected horsemeat in meat balls labeled as beef for Swedish furniture retailer giant IKEA, while European Union officials met to discuss tougher food labeling rules to counter the developing scandal.

“We take this very seriously and have withdrawn one-kilo bags of frozen meatballs from Slovakia, the Czech Republic, Hungary, France, Britain, Portugal, Italy, the Netherlands, Belgium, Spain, Cyprus, Greece and Ireland,” in addition to Sweden, said company spokeswoman Ylva Magnusson.
The product had also been removed from shelves in Denmark, according to Dorte Hjorth Harder, spokeswoman for Ikea Denmark.
“We have today been informed that our meatballs could contain traces of horsemeat, based on a test done in the Czech Republic,” Ikea said in a statement.
“Our own tests haven’t shown any traces of horsemeat. We now obviously have to study this further,” it added.

The horse meat was found in one-kilogram packs of frozen meat balls made in Sweden and shipped to the Czech Republic for sale in Ikea stores there, the State Veterinary Administration said. A total of 760 kg of the meat balls were stopped from reaching the shelves.

IKEA’s furniture stores feature restaurants and also sell typical Swedish food, including the so-called Kottbullar meatballs.
It was not immediately clear whether Ikea exported the same product to other countries. Calls seeking comment from IKEA in Sweden were not immediately returned yesterday.
The Czech authority also found horse meat in beef burgers imported from Poland during random tests of food products.
Authorities across Europe have started doing random DNA checks after traces of horse meat turned up in frozen supermarket meals such as burgers and lasagna beginning last month.
The European Union’s agriculture ministers gathered in Brussels yesterday to discuss the widening scandal’s fallout, with some member states pressing for tougher rules to regain consumer confidence.
The 27-nation bloc must agree on binding origin disclosures for food product ingredients, starting with a better labeling of meat products, German agriculture minister Ilse Aigner said.
“Consumers have every right to the greatest-possible transparency,” she insisted.
Austria backs the German initiative; but others like Ireland say existing rules are sufficient although Europe-wide controls must be strengthened to address the problem of fraudulent labeling.
The scandal has created a split between nations like Britain who see further rules as a protectionist hindrance of free trade under the bloc’s single market, and those calling for tougher regulation.
Processed food products — a business segment with traditionally low margins that often leads producers to hunt for the cheapest suppliers — often contain ingredients from multiple suppliers in different countries, who themselves at time subcontract production to others, making it hard to monitor every link in the production chain.
Standardized DNA checks with meat suppliers and more stringent labeling rules will add costs that producers will most likely hand down to consumers, making food more expensive.
The scandal began in Ireland in mid-January when the country’s announced the results of its first-ever DNA tests on beef products. It tested frozen beef burgers taken from store shelves and found that more than a third of brands at five supermarkets contained at least a trace of horse.
The sample of one brand sold by British supermarket kingpin Tesco was more than a quarter horse.
Such discoveries have spread like wildfire across Europe as governments, supermarkets, meat traders and processors began their own DNA testing of products labeled beef and have been forced to withdraw tens of millions of products from store shelves.
More than a dozen nations have detected horse flesh in processed products such as factory-made burger patties, lasagnas, meat pies and meat-filled pastas. The investigations have been complicated by elaborate supply chains involving multiple cross-border middlemen.


France’s Macron at White House, Mount Vernon as state visit begins

Updated 57 min 41 sec ago
0

France’s Macron at White House, Mount Vernon as state visit begins

  • French President Emmanuel Macron received the full red carpet treatment at the White House as he begins his state visit to the US
  • Macron is set to address a joint session of Congress

WASHINGTON: French President Emmanuel Macron on Monday kicked off a pomp-filled three-day state visit to the US at the White House — a test of whether his studied bonhomie with President Donald Trump can save the Iran nuclear deal and avoid a trans-Atlantic trade war.
Before getting the full red carpet treatment at the White House — payback for wooing Trump with military parades and a dazzling Eiffel Tower dinner in Paris last July — Macron took an impromptu stroll to the Lincoln Memorial with his wife Brigitte.
Hailing the “very important” visit, Macron then rolled into the West Wing from Lafayette Square — named after the storied French general who fought in America’s war for independence — beneath dozens of fluttering tricolor French flags and before a full US military color guard.
Waiting at the door, the US president smiled and held out his hand for Macron to shake, and the French leader kissed him on both cheeks.
The pageantry — designed to underscore Trump and Macron’s “friendship” — comes in stark contrast to the bare-bones one-day working visit of German Chancellor Angela Merkel later in the week.
But beyond the 21-gun salutes and dinners of lamb and “Burnt Cipollini Soubise” lurks high political danger for the 40-year-old French leader.
Trump is deeply unpopular in France and Macron, like other world leaders — from Japan’s Shinzo Abe to Britain’s Theresa May — is under growing pressure to show voters the benefits of his courtship with the 71-year-old Republican.
Looming over a joint outing to George Washington’s Mount Vernon estate on Monday evening, and working meetings and a state dinner on Tuesday, are two May deadlines that have the potential to wreck already fragile trans-Atlantic relations.
Biting trade sanctions on European steel and aluminum will enter into force on May 1 unless Trump agrees to sign a waiver. If he refuses, there are fears of a full-fledged trade war.
Meanwhile, France and other European nations are battling to save a complex nuclear deal with Iran, which Trump will scuttle if he refuses to waive sanctions against Tehran by a May 12 deadline.
Iran says it is ready to relaunch its nuclear program — which the West suspects is designed to produce a bomb — if Trump kills the deal.
European officials say Trump’s demand to reopen the deal are impossible, and are scrambling to address his concerns on Tehran’s missile testing, inspections and the regime’s behavior in the region.
There is growing frustration in European capitals that Trump’s stubbornness over the Obama-era agreement is diverting attention away from other pressing issues.
In an interview broadcast on the eve of his arrival, Macron went on Trump’s favorite television channel, Fox News, to make his pitch.
“If you make war against everybody,” Macron said, “trade war against Europe, war in Syria, war against Iran — come on — it doesn’t work. You need allies. We are the allies.”
Macron will also be keen to temper Trump’s instinct to precipitously pull the US military out of Syria, amid cooperation in fighting the Daesh group and coordinated strikes on chemical weapons installations operated by Damascus.
“I think the US role is very important to play,” he said.
“Why? I will be very blunt. The day we will have finished this war against ISIS — another name for Daesh — if we leave, definitely and totally, even from a political point of view, we will leave the floor to the Iranian regime, Bashar Assad and these guys.”
In public, both countries are keen to emphasize their historic relationship — recalling that France was the first ally of American revolutionaries fighting for independence.
Macron brought with him an oak sapling that he and Trump planted at the White House on Monday as a symbol of friendship.
It comes from near the site of the Battle of Belleau Woods in northern France, where 2,000 US Marines perished at the end of World War I.
The pair, clearly relaxed, also briefly visited the Oval Office before heading to Mount Vernon.
On a personal level, despite sharp differences in political background, age and lifestyle, the presidents seem to have struck up a bond as fellow outsiders who outwitted the establishment to gain power.
“We have a very special relationship because both of us are probably the maverick of the systems on both sides,” Macron told Fox News.
Trump himself told Macron their “friendship” was “unbreakable” during his trip to Paris last year.
When asked about their first encounter — a much-scrutinized six-second handshake during a NATO summit in May — Macron acknowledged it had was a “very direct, lucid moment” that had set the tone between them.
“And a very friendly moment,” he added. “It was to say now, we will work together.”
On Wednesday, the centrist leader will demonstrate his English-language skills — a rarity for a French president — in an address to a joint session of Congress.