Ikea says horsemeat in meatballs, pulls more dishes

STOCKHOLM (AFP) - Ikea said on Wednesday it was withdrawing more food products from its stores in Europe as tests confirmed the presence of horsemeat in its meatballs.

The Swedish furniture giant pulled its hot dogs in France, Spain, Britain, Ireland and Portugal, and two traditional dishes sold in Sweden: a veal patty known as "wallenbergare" and a cabbage beef casserole.

Earlier this week the company pulled its Ikea-brand one-kilogramme (2.2-pound) bags of frozen meatballs off its shelves and withdrew meatballs from its restaurants in 25 countries, primarily in Europe but also in parts of Asia and in the Dominican Republic after Czech authorities said they found traces of horse DNA in the product.

Ikea said its own tests had so far only shown the presence of horsemeat in its meatballs, but the other products were being removed because they were made by the same supplier as the meatballs, Swedish company Dafgaard.

"Out of several hundred test results we have received ... a handful have shown indications of horsemeat," Ikea spokeswoman Ylva Magnusson said, referring to the meatball tests.

The announcement came just after Dafgaard confirmed it had found horsemeat in several batches of its meatballs.

"The affected batches are all frozen meatballs that have already been blocked from sale," Dafgaard said in a statement.

Swedish news agency TT reported the level of horsemeat found was between one and 10 percent, which is higher than the level usually considered to be the result of contamination in a slaughterhouse.

Ikea said no decision had been taken about whether it would terminate its contract with Dafgaard.

"For several years we have been working closely with Dafgaard, we view this just as seriously (as they do). Together we are looking at how to proceed," Magnusson said.

The furniture retailer was the latest group to become caught up in a Europe-wide scandal over horsemeat in food products that erupted in January when horse DNA was detected in beefburgers in Britain and Ireland.