Ikea’s horse meatballs get pulled from shelves across Europe

He wouldn’t know the difference.
He wouldn’t know the difference.
Image: AP Photo / Larry Crowe
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Ikea is temporarily halting sales of its iconic meatballs (paywall) from stores in 21 European countries after discovering a batch containing horsemeat had been sent to over a dozen countries.

Earlier today, we reported that Czech authorities found Ikea’s famous pork and beef meatballs also contained traces of horsemeat. The Swedish furniture retailer reacted by posting a statement on its Facebook page saying it was halting all sales within the Czech Republic. Later, Ikea said that meatballs from the affected batch had also been sent to its stores in the United Kingdom, Hungary, France, Slovakia, the Netherlands, Spain, Greece, Italy, Cyprus, Portugal, and Ireland.

The company originally said it would only pull meatballs from the affected batch, but according to a spokesperson, a torrent of discussion and criticism on social media prompted the company to take extra precaution. ”We’ve decided to stop all sales of meatballs in most European countries in order to not create worries for our customers pending the results of our own tests,” IKEA spokeswoman Ylva Magnusson says (paywall).

Ikea is the second major international firm to get dragged into Europe’s ongoing horsemeat scandal, a result of the region’s labyrinthine food supply chains made up of brokers, meat plants, and cold stores who all try to source the cheapest ingredients. Today, Spain’s ministry of agriculture said that horsemeat DNA had been found in beef pasta meals made by Nestlé, the world’s largest food producer, which pulled the meals from shelves in Italy and Spain earlier this month.

The fact that large companies like Ikea and Nestlé are finding horsemeat in their products widens the possible reach of “horsegate” and could put more pressure on the European Union agriculture ministers meeting in Brussels to talk about requirements for labeling the origin of meat products. Since January, there have been cases of mislabeled horsemeat, from frozen burgers to ready-made lasagnas, in 12 European countries.