Lidl finds horsemeat in dishes in Finland, Denmark, Sweden

HELSINKI (AFP) - German discount chain Lidl has pulled ready-made meals from the shelves of its Finnish, Danish and Swedish stores after tests confirmed the presence of horsemeat, the company said on Monday.

Lidl's beef goulash and tortellini bolognese sold in Finland under the Coquette brand "contained traces of horsemeat", a company spokesman said.

The dishes were removed from store shelves at the weekend as a precaution while the tests were being carried out.

In Sweden, Lidl said it had found traces of horse in the company's own-brand goulash produced by German group Dreistern, which had earlier been removed from stores, as well as in a frozen pasta bolognese dish sold under the brand Combino and made by German group Copack.

"Our tests have shown there were traces of horsemeat," Lidl spokesman Caroline Forsshell told news agency TT, adding that the pasta dish had now been withdrawn from sale.

The same Combino pasta dish sold in Denmark was also confirmed to contain horsemeat and was removed from stores, Lidl Denmark said on its website.

Lidl said last week it had found traces of horse in beef goulash and a tortellini bolognese product sold by its Austrian subsidiary.

This is the first time the Europe-wide scandal of horsemeat sold as beef has hit Finland and Denmark. Several Swedish supermarket chains have already pulled their lasagne dishes produced by France's Comigel.

The Finnish Food Safety Authority, Evira, said meanwhile on Monday that it would perform random DNA tests on meat sold in the country.

The European Union, seeking to reassure nervous consumers that their food is safe and to end the horsemeat scandal, on Friday agreed the immediate launch of tests for horse DNA in meat products.

Germany said on Monday it planned to tighten checks and sanctions on food production under an action plan to counter the scandal.

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