VEVEY, Switzerland, Feb. 19 (UPI) -- International food giant Nestle said it was removing pasta meals from stores in Italy and Spain as the scandal over horse meat being passed off as beef grew.
The scandal of horse meat being found in food products was first reported in Ireland and Britain and has spread to the continent, where about a dozen countries have issued product recalls, The New York Times reported Tuesday.
Nestle, based in Vevey, Switzerland, said it bumped up its testing after horse meat was found in British foods and discovered "traces" of horse DNA in two products made with beef supplied by H.J. Schypke, a German company that is a subcontractor of one of Nestle's suppliers
The levels were above the 1 percent threshold used by the British Food Standards Agency as an indicator of adulteration, Nestle said in a statement.
"There is no food safety issue, but the mislabeling of products means they fail to meet the very high standards consumers expect from us," Nestle said.
Nestle said Buitoni Beef Ravioli and Beef Tortellini products were being removed from supermarkets in Italy and Spain immediately. Lasagnes a la Bolognaise Gourmandes, a frozen meat product used in catering in France, also was being pulled and replaced with a product made from 100 percent beef.
While the horse meat crisis has been considered mainly an issue of mislabeling, the Times reported a potent equine painkiller, phenylbutazone, may have entered the food chain last week. Eight horses slaughtered for food in Britain tested positive for the drug and six of the carcasses already were exported to France for use in human food.