LONDON – Tests have found horsemeat in school meals, hospital food and restaurant dishes in Britain, officials said Friday, as the scandal over adulterated meat spread beyond frozen supermarket products.
Results were coming in after U.K. food safety officials ordered supermarkets and suppliers to test all processed meals labeled as beef for traces of horsemeat.
Whitbread, Britain's largest hotel and restaurant company, said horse DNA had been found in lasagna and burgers on its menus. The company, whose outlets include Premier Inn hotels and the Brewers Fayre and Beefeater Grill restaurant chains, said it was “shocked and disappointed at this failure of the processed meat supply chain.”
Officials also said horsemeat was present in cottage pies delivered to 47 schools in Lancashire county, northern England, and in hospital meals in Northern Ireland. David Bingham, of the health service's Business Services Organization, said the hospital meals, from a supplier in the Republic of Ireland, had been withdrawn.
Several British supermarket chains, including Morrisons and Tesco, said Friday that tests on their products had so far been negative for horsemeat.
Duncan Campbell, a senior British food inspector, said the results would give a snapshot of the extent of the horsemeat contamination, which already has seen products pulled from supermarket shelves across Europe. But, he told the BBC, “I think there will be still more discoveries to be made.”
“The more people have looked for horsemeat, the more products have been found containing it. I don't think we have got to the bottom of it yet,” he said.
Officials from the European Union countries decided Friday to go ahead with a plan for more intensive checks to detect horsemeat in food labeled as beef.
In addition, horsemeat will be tested for phenylbutazone, or bute, an anti-inflammatory veterinary drug that's illegal to use in animals used for food.