STOCKHOLM – Swedish furniture giant Ikea became entangled in Europe’s widening meat scandal Monday, forced to withdraw meatballs from stores across Europe amid suspicions that they contained horse meat.
Stores in the U.S. and Canada were not affected, Ikea said.
The company reacted after authorities in the Czech Republic said they had detected horse DNA in tests of 2.2-pound packs of frozen meatballs that were labeled as beef and pork. The Czech State Veterinary Administration said it tested two batches of Ikea meatballs and only one of them contained horse meat. It did not say how much.
Meatballs from the same batch had been sent from a Swedish supplier to 12 other European countries – Slovakia, Hungary, France, Britain, Portugal, the Netherlands, Belgium, Spain, Italy, Greece, Cyprus and Ireland – and would be pulled off the shelves in all of them, Ikea said.
Later Monday, the company expanded the withdrawals to stores in 21 countries that were getting meatballs from the same Swedish supplier.
Ikea spokeswoman Ylva Magnusson said that included most European countries, but not Russia and Norway, which use local suppliers. Stores in Poland and Switzerland use both local suppliers and the Swedish one, but would now only use locally produced meatballs, she said.
“This is an extraordinary effort to ensure that no one is worried,” Magnusson said.
She added that two weeks ago Ikea tested a range of frozen food products, including meatballs, and found no traces of horse meat. The company plans to conduct its own tests to “validate” the Czech results, she said.
Ikea’s North America branch said the U.S. stores get their meatballs from a U.S. supplier.
Ikea is known for its assemble-it-yourself furniture but its trademark blue-and-yellow megastores also have cafeteria-style restaurants.