Tests find horsemeat in Taco Bell UK ground beef

Credit: Reuters
Credit: Reuters

Britain’s food regulator said on Friday that testing had found horsemeat in ground beef at Taco Bell UK fast-food outlets, a discovery that puts new pressure on parent Yum Brands Inc, which is grappling with a food safety scare in China.

Taco Bell said the horsemeat issue is isolated to its UK market, where the Mexican-inspired chain has just three restaurants, and that it will step up testing of its beef.

On Monday, Yum said it would stop using more than 1,000 poultry slaughterhouses in China as it moves to tighten food safety and reverse a sharp drop in business at KFC restaurants in its top market after a scare over contaminated chicken.

Europe’s horsemeat scandal erupted in January, when testing in Ireland revealed that some beef products also contained equine DNA.

It since has spread across the continent, ensnaring numerous well-known brands, prompting product withdrawals, consumer concerns and government investigations into the region’s complex food-processing chains.

Britain’s Food Standards Agency (FSA) said on Friday it had conducted 1,797 tests over the last seven days. More than 99 percent of the readings came back negative for horsemeat levels at or above 1 percent.

However, four tests were positive, it said. They were for Taco Bell ground beef, beef skewers made by catering company Brakes, and two types of Birds Eye ready meals – spaghetti bolognese and beef lasagne.

The Birds Eye meals were withdrawn from sale last week after tests on a product the company sold in Belgium produced by the same supplier came back positive.

The FSA said no tests to date on samples containing horse DNA had found the veterinary medicine phenylbutazone (bute), which is banned from most medical uses in humans for safety reasons.

Taco Bell tested the meat at its UK restaurants as soon as news of the horsemeat contamination surfaced, Taco Bell UK spokesman Christopher Fuller said in a statement.

“Based on that testing we learned ingredients supplied to us from one supplier in Europe tested positive for horsemeat. We immediately withdrew it from sale, discontinued purchase of that meat and contacted the FSA with this information,” Fuller said.

Taco Bell, like many other companies, cannot say for certain whether any of the horsemeat-tainted product was served to consumers, Fuller said.

The chain will test every batch of ground beef when it arrives at its processor and again before it is delivered to restaurants to make sure it is 100 percent beef, Fuller said.

“We apologize to our customers and take this matter very seriously,” he added.

Yum has seen a sharp drop in business at its nearly 5,300, mostly KFC, restaurants in China after news reports and government investigations in the Asian country focused on chemical residue found in a small portion of its chicken supply.

Yum was not fined by Chinese food safety authorities.

Hamburger chain Burger King in January said traces of horse DNA had been found in samples of hamburger patties from a food-processing plant in Ireland but that the meat never reached its restaurants.

Shares in Yum were off 0.6 percent at $65.07 in midday trading on the New York Stock Exchange.

Earlier on Friday, the British Retail Consortium, an industry body, said the latest round of testing by grocers including all the major supermarkets had produced no new positive results.


News
Entertainment
Sports
Lifestyle
Local

Monday is the deadline to register for Pennsylvania…

If residents want to vote in the May primary, which includes a vote for a new City Council member, today is the deadline to register.

National

Miss America thinks school should reconsider discipline of…

A Pa. student was suspended for asking Miss America to prom.

Local

Aria Health Torresdale workers caught selling prescription drugs

Two Aria Health at Torresdale employees were fired amid accusations they sold prescription drugs out of the Northeast Philadelphia campus.

National

Rubin 'Hurricane' Carter died Sunday from prostate cancer…

Former U.S. professional boxer Rubin "Hurricane" Carter, who spent 19 years in prison for murder and then was released after it was determined he did not get a fair trial,…

Television

'Game of Thrones' recap: Season 4, Episode 3,…

The problem with the devil you know is that ignoring them doesn’t mean they simply lie in wait. It allows them time to do things…

Television

Discovery cancels 'Everest Jump Live' special in wake…

The Discovery Channel has indicated it will not be moving forward with "Everest Jump Live," a planned special about mountain climber Joby Ogwyn's effort to…

The Word

'X-Men' director Bryan Singer drama continues

  News broke late last week that "X-Men" and "The Usual Suspects" director Bryan Singer is being sued by a man who said Singer molested…

The Word

Miley Cyrus cancels more dates, tweeting from hospital

Miley Cyrus is reportedly so sick that she's had to postpone more tour dates. We know this because she has been sitting in a hospital…

NHL

Ray Emery steps up in Flyers’ Game 2…

Sure, he allowed two goals in the Rangers’ first four shots Sunday afternoon, but it’s about how you start, not how you finish.

NHL

Flyers come from behind, even series with Rangers

The Flyers overcame a two-goal deficit to get a much-needed win at Madison Square Garden Sunday.

MLB

Phillies get set for four against the Dodgers

The Phillies will face tough starting pitching out west against the Dodgers this week.

MLB

Phillies notebook: Cole Hamels returns this week

The Phillies should receive a big boost when Cole Hamels returns during the Dodgers series.

Travel

Packing: The one thing you need in your…

A new survey that looks at the travel habits of 50,000 people around the world has revealed that Western and Asian globetrotters have different priorities…

Home

Is your chair making it hard to talk?

Ever wished there was an office chair that could make impromptu meetings and discussions more private? The Cristiana Wing Chair is an asymmetrical armchair which…

Travel

Live large at these luxury hotels

From Thai boxing lessons and macabre Dracula tours to the Australian Outback, the Four Seasons hotel chain launched a series of new travel packages this…

Parenting

4 things that every summer camp should have

Alan Saltz, director of the 92nd street Y program lists things that every summer camp should have.