Sodexo pulls frozen beef after horse DNA found

Event caterer Sodexo Prestige has withdrawn all frozen beef supplies after horse DNA was found in three of its products.

Some frozen burgers in supermarkets have tested positive for horse DNA. Photo:
Some frozen burgers in supermarkets have tested positive for horse DNA. Photo:

Sodexo, which caters for events like Royal Ascot and Henley Royal Regatta and venues including HMS Belfast and Old Billingsgate, said that around 15% of its event sites use products from the suppliers who provided contaminated meat.

It has suspended the use of all frozen beef products as a precaution and launched an investigation to find out how the situation arose.

Sodexo told Event that relevant clients had been informed and, contrary to media reports, Royal Ascot was not one of the affected sites.

It said in a statement: "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 frozen beef products which tested positive for equine DNA. This situation is totally unacceptable. We felt the only appropriate response was to withdraw not only this product but all frozen beef products. We will only re-admit into our catering operations products that have affirmatively passed DNA testing, pursuant to laboratory test criteria."

Frozen meat represents 1% of Sodexo’s total food supply chain and 7% of its meat supplies, the spokesperson told Event.

The widening horsemeat scandal has seen traces of horsemeat being found in beef products at major supermarkets, including beef lasagne products recalled by Aldi, some of which were proven to be 100% horsemeat.

Other caterers have also been seeking reassurance from their suppliers. Hugh Walker, managing director of Eden Caters, said in an email to customers: "This sorry predicament that our supermarkets find themselves in is another testament to the value of homemade food. The importance of shortening the distance, the time and the processes between the farm and the food on your plate. Buy the meat from your butcher and treat yourself to real, homemade food. Please be assured that this is always what we do for you. We do not buy processed meat products and we always make all meat products ourselves using meat from our butcher."

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