VEVEY, SWITZERLAND — Nestle S.A. is recalling three beef products sold throughout Europe. Two of the products were sold in Italy and Spain under the Buitoni brand and were labeled as beef ravioli and beef tortellini. The third product is a frozen lasagna that was sold through the company’s Nestle Professional business unit. Company testing found the presence of horse D.N.A. in all three products at levels above the 1% threshold established by the United Kingdom’s Food Standards Agency.
Nestle said the beef had been supplied by a German company, H.J. Schypke, a subcontractor for JBS Toledo N.V. Nestle has “suspended” all deliveries from Schypke.
JBS Toledo is a business unit of JBS S.A., Sao Paulo, Brazil, one of the world’s largest meat processors. In a statement, JBS S.A. sought to distance itself from its relationship with H.J. Schypke.
“To add flexibility and a just-in-time service to some of its European clients and as a precaution against possible future legal, trade or sanitary barriers, JBS Toledo developed in conjunction with its customer base alternative lines of additional supply from European sources,” said Jeremiah O'Callaghan, investor relations director for JBS. “JBS Toledo’s clients actively participated in the selection process, auditing and approving prospective European suppliers. In this specific case, from the outset of supply, all operational and logistical processes were carried out by the German supplier who delivered the product to the final client.”
Mr. O’Callaghan said JBS Toledo has suspended all contracts with H.J. Schypke and said the business unit will not market European meat until “confidence is restored in the European beef supply chain.”
Nestle said it will enhance its existing quality assurance program in Europe by adding tests on beef for horse D.N.A. prior to production.
Testing beef for horse D.N.A. will be ongoing in the U.K. for the foreseeable future, according to the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs. In a meeting with Owen Paterson, environment secretary, companies throughout the food supply chain said they would provide U.K. officials with an update on their testing efforts on Feb. 22, March 1 and every three months after March 1.“I welcome the food businesses’ commitment to testing their products,” Mr. Paterson said. “They all assured me that they will not rest until they have established the full picture. There is still much to be done to find out exactly how this happened and how it can be prevented from happening again, and to do everything possible to reassure consumers about the food on our shelves.”