Sodexo, which provides services at 2,300 outlets across the UK and Ireland, has withdrawn all of its frozen beef products after one of its burgers tested positive for horsemeat. In a statement released today, the catering firm says ‘the situation is totally unacceptable’.
“Sodexo has had a pro-active programme in place to ensure that there is no horse meat in its supply chain,” the statement reads. “We demanded written assurances from across our supply chain that the products we purchase did not contain horse meat, 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. We felt the only appropriate response was to withdraw not only this product but all frozen beef products.
“Sodexo have notified the FSA of our findings and will assist fully in its investigation. We have also launched our own investigation to understand how this regrettable situation arose.”
Burger Manufacturing Company
Meanwhile, BMC - the mid-Wales catering firm which supplies pubs, restaurants and fast-food outlets across the UK – has also withdrawn some of its products from sale after they were found to contain at least 1 per cent horsemeat.
The Food Standards Agency (FSA) said three samples of products made by the BMC tested positive for horse. The Company said it too was ‘devastated’ by the revelations.
“The last thing we wanted to do was supply something that wasn't what it’s supposed to be,” said the BMC’s marketing director Mark Cornall. “At no point did we ever know that there would be anything other than beef.
"Of course we are devastated by that and we can only apologise profusely for it. We are doing everything we can to rectify it."
BMC said it had traced back the contamination in its products to Farmbox Meats, the Welsh company that was raided by the FSA last week. Two Farmbox Meats employees were arrested but have since been bailed.
Avoiding the fallout
A week ago today, the UK’s largest hotel and restaurant operator, Whitbread, discovered horsemeat in its lasagne and beef burger productsthat were reportedly sold in Premier Inn, Brewers Fayre, Beefeater Grill and Table Table outlets.
And with the Government currently investigating how horsemeat has made it into processed beef products, restaurant, hotel and pub owners are being urged to take extra steps to know the provenance of the produce they are using to avoid being embroiled in future scandals.
Matthew Starling, of law firm Geldards explained: “Inspectors are already checking the traceability records for all foods and ingredients of animal origin, following the introduction of EU legislation last year.
“The Food Standards Agency has already directed a number of councils to take random samples from across the industry and many local authorities have this week announced further inspections outside of the FSA’s national programme.
“With local authorities rigorously inspecting beef products and businesses’ systems, all food retailers and caterers should be aware of risks over and above just the presence of pork or horsemeat in those products. Poor performance during random inspections could lead to the service of hygiene notices, closures or even prosecutions.”
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