Ikea Meatballs Withdrawn Over Horsemeat Fears

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A batch of meatballs has been taken off the menu at Ikea's UK stores after they were found to contain traces of horsemeat.

The Czech Republic's state veterinary administration - which made the discovery - said the 1kg packs of frozen meatballs were labelled as beef and pork.

Ikea, whose furniture stores feature restaurants and sell Swedish food, said it had taken the Czech result "seriously".

It has stopped a total of 760kg (1,675lb) of meatballs from the same batch reaching its shelves in 13 countries across Europe, including Britain.

The checks were carried out in response to a European-wide scandal that erupted last month when tests carried out in Ireland (OTC BB: IRLD - news) revealed some beef products also contained horsemeat.

Traces of horsemeat were found in meals sold by several British retailers.

An Ikea spokesman said: "Ikea takes the test result from the Czech Republic authorities showing indications of traces of horsemeat seriously.

"The concerned production batch of meatballs has been withdrawn from the Swedish Food Market in the Ikea stores.

"Already two weeks ago, Ikea Group initiated DNA analyses of all meat products in the range.

"Twelve tested samples of different batches of meatballs showed no traces of horsemeat."

The Swedish firm stresed that meatballs would still be available to buy in its stores and only one batch was being withdrawn as a precaution.

The European Union's agriculture ministers have gathered in Brussels 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 labelling of meat products, German agriculture minister Ilse Aigner said.

"Consumers have every right to the greatest-possible transparency," she said the consignment of meatballs that was tested had not been distributed to consumers, the statement said.

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