Tesco, the U.K.’s largest grocer, said it withdrew some beef products after tests by the Food Safety Authority of Ireland found some contained horse DNA.
Two frozen beef burger products sold by Tesco in both the U.K. and Ireland had horse DNA, the company said in a Jan. 15 statement on its web site. “We immediately withdrew from sale all products from the supplier in question,” the retailer said.
Irish food safety authorities on Jan. 15 said about 37 percent of the beef burger products it examined in a broad survey tested positive for horse DNA, while 85 percent showed pig DNA. Those with the horse cells were produced by processing plants in Ireland and the U.K., the food safety agency said. It listed Tesco as one of the retailers that sold the products.
Alan Reilly, chief executive of the Irish agency, said the beef doesn’t pose any public health concerns. There is no clear explanation for the presence of the horse DNA, he said.
“In Ireland, it is not in our culture to eat horse meat and therefore, we do not expect to find it in a burger,” Reilly said.
Tesco shares fell as much as 1.7 percent in London trading. They were down 1.1 percent at 345.85 pence at 11:50 a.m.
“It’s damaging because people don’t want to think they’re eating horse and it brings into question the whole trust issue,” said Matt Piner, research director at Conlumino. “Retail trust is harder to build than throw away.”