Horse meat sold in beef products in Hungary -watchdog

BUDAPEST Tue Feb 26, 2013 7:49am EST

BUDAPEST Feb 26 (Reuters) - Horse meat labelled as beef has been sold in Hungary, the National Food Chain Safety Office (Nebih) said on Tuesday.

Gyorgy Pleva, director of Nebih told television channel TV2 that the authorities were looking into three separate cases of suspected horse meat found at the retail and wholesale level.

"Horse meat certainly got into (shops)," he said, adding that all the shipments investigated by the authority took place last year.

Horse meat has been found in beef products across Europe in recent weeks, damaging confidence in the continent's vast and complex food industry.

A small amount of hamburger meat containing horse meat was sold last summer in a Hungarian restaurant, Pleva said, without disclosing the origin of the product.

The Hungarian distributor of food brand Nowaco will withdraw a lasagne product in a few days, which is suspected of containing horse meat, he added.

"What we can say is that even if there is such a product, that will be taken off from the shelves within days," he said.

DNA tests in the Czech Republic have shown that two batches of frozen Nowaco Lasagne Bolognese in a branch of the Tesco supermarket chain contained horse meat, and authorities said the products listed Luxembourg as the country of origin.

Pleva said another lasagne product, which was made in Hungary, was also being probed based on a report from Denmark, the intended destination of the product. He did not clarify whether this product got into Danish shops and could not immediately be reached for further comment. (Reporting by Sandor Peto; editing by Jane Baird)