Horsemeat scandal still on the trot

Danish supermarkets decide to pull products and may boycott French company

Danish supermarkets have decided to stop selling products from the French company Comigel, which is connected to the ongoing food scandal involving horsemeat being sold as beef.

Føtex, Netto and Bilka, which all operate under the Dansk Supermarked umbrella, decided today to pull Findus lasagne packages produced by Comigel. 

"We will no longer have anything from Comigel, so the goods are no longer to be found in our stores and may not return in the future," Mads Hvitved, Dansk Supermarked's director of communications, told Ekstra Bladet. 

The Coop group of supermarkets – Kvickly, Dagli’Brugsen and SuperBrugsen – pulled their Comigel lasagne packages last week.

“We did it because of the doubt that has arisen concerning Comigel’s products,” Jens Juul Nielsen, a spokesperson from Coop Danmark, told Politiken.

Comigel is a food supplier to Tesco. Another supplier to Tesco, Silvercrest Foods, was found by Irish food officials to be supplying beef with traces of horse DNA in January. This led Tesco and three other British supermarkets to pull massive amounts of suspect beef off of the market in what has become the biggest food scandal to hit Europe in years. Fast food giant Burger King was also forced to toss millions of burgers, including at all of its locations in Denmark.

Comigel has accused its subcontractor, Spaghero, of being responsible for the horsemeat, who in turn has blamed two Romanian slaughterhouses. 

Politiken newspaper reported yesterday that up to 16 countries could be involved in the growing horsemeat scandal. Stores in Great Britain, France, Sweden, Ireland and Romania have withdrawn ready-made meals, some of which have been suspected of containing up to 100 percent horsemeat. 

No horsemeat has been found in Denmark thus far and there is no evidence to suggest that Danish consumers have been eating horsemeat, according to Kim Sigsgaard, a spokesperson from the food authority board, Fødevarestyrelsen.

“We are following the development of the situation in Great Britain and in Sweden intently, but we believe that the chances of finding horsemeat in Danish stores are minimal,” Sigsgaard told TV2 News. “But, it’s a pretty massive fraud case in Europe at the moment, so we can't be completely sure.”

The EU has called for a meeting tomorrow with a number of European ministers to discuss the issue.

“It’s a scandal, and the law must be severe to those who are guilty of selling illicit meat or committing fraud,” Michel Barnier, the European Commissioner for Internal Market and Services, said in a press statement.