In the latest such move Friday, frozen food maker Birds Eye withdrew three microwave-ready dishes — spaghetti Bolognese, shepherd's pie and lasagna — from all supermarket shelves in Britain and Ireland because it suspected that the products might contain horse meat. A DNA test on another Birds Eye-branded product on sale in Belgium, a chili con carne dish, determined it contained 2 percent horse.
All four products were made by one of Birds Eye's subcontractors in Belgium, a maker of ready meals and kebab meats called Frigilunch.
Birds Eye is one of the best-known frozen food brands in both Europe and the United States, but the brand has different owners on each side of the Atlantic.
Also Friday, British catering firm Sodexo — a major supplier to schools, care homes and the military — said it was withdrawing all frozen beef products after one dish tested positive for horse DNA.
Ireland previously had found no evidence to show that any horses slaughtered in the country ended up in the human food chain. The initial discovery of horse in Irish-made burger patties for sale in Ireland and Britain was linked to suppliers in Poland. Polish authorities insisted they could find no evidence of wrongdoing there.
The profit motive is obvious for fraudsters.
Horse meat might fetch prices of €600 to €700 ($800 to $950) a ton, while beef costs around €4,000 ($5,500) a ton. And without DNA testing — rarely done until recent days because horse meat is not dangerous to eat — the chances of detection are remote.
Associated Press writers Jill Lawless in London, Angela Charlton in Paris and Mike Corder in Amsterdam contributed to this report.
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