Findus beef lasagnes have been found to contain up to 100% horsemeat. We look at your consumer rights
Which Findus products are affected?
All Findus beef lasagnes, whether 320g, 360g or 500g. It says all its other products have been tested and none of these are affected. The lasagne meat comes from a different supplier – Comigel – to that of its other products.
What should I do if I have any of these lasagnes in my freezer?
You can either take them back to the store where you bought them, or call the Findus careline on 0800 132584 and arrange for a refund. You will need to have the barcode. Tesco says you don’t need a receipt to get a refund.
Refunds from Findus will be made in the form of a voucher, although a customer services employee at the careline said: “If you are not happy with this I believe we will refund in the form of a postal order.”
Are these products still on sale?
Findus has withdrawn all of its beef lasagne ready meals from supermarkets.
Should I stop eating beef products altogether?
The answer is a personal decision. Labour environment shadow minister Mary Creagh has said she would not eat any processed beef products currently on sale. However, the Food Standards Agency (FSA) says horsemeat itself is not a food safety risk. There are, however, potential health issues surrounding consumption of the veterinary drug Phenylbutazone that may be present in horsemeat. The products that have been so far been withdrawn from sale – not just those from Findus – are all being tested for this drug.
A spokeswoman for the FSA said: “At this stage we are only advising consumers to avoid eating the products that have been implicated. We are not advising that they stop eating processed beef products altogether.”
The FSA has ordered all British food businesses to test their processed beef products in the next week, with a deadline of Friday 15 February. The results of this will give consumers a much better picture of which products are affected and which are not.
What is Phenylbutazone?
Phenylbutazone or “bute” is an anti-inflammatory veterinary drug used by vets to treat pain or fever in horses. In the mid-20th century it was used in humans to treat arthritis and gout, but was banned after it was found that about one person in 30,000 suffered serious side effects when using the drug – it can cause the serious blood disorder aplastic anaemia.
Horsemeat from animals treated with bute while alive poses a risk to human health, according to the FSA. Animals treated with bute are not allowed to enter the food chain because of the risk of aplastic anaemia.
The FSA has not been able to identify what a safe level of bute “residue” is in meat. “In levels reported in previous FSA testing of contaminated meat, the maximum level found would have to be multiplied a thousand-fold to be at the same level as that which used to be given to humans,” the organisation said.
Who else does Comigel supply in the UK and what products?
Comigel is a French firm that makes a range of frozen products including pizzas and ready meals. It supplied own-brand pasta dishes to Tesco and Aldi. These were withdrawn earlier in the week.
What does this mean for the Findus brand?
Mark Lowe, founder of branding and communications consultancy Third City, said: “If brand equity was rated, Findus would now have ‘junk’ status. Circumstances have really overtaken the brand and, unlike Burger King, they’ve been unable to get on the front foot. I can’t see the brand recovering from this.”
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