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Horse meat found in Ikea meatballs, Czech officials say

Czech Republic officials say traces of horse meat were discovered in frozen packages of meatballs sent to their country for sale at furniture giant Ikea. NBCNews.com's Dara Brown reports.

Traces of horse have been found in meatballs labeled as beef and pork for Swedish global furniture giant Ikea, according to authorities in the Czech Republic.

The horse meat was found in one-kilogram packs of frozen meat balls made in Sweden and shipped to the Czech Republic for sale in Ikea stores there, the Czech State Veterinary Administration said.


It is the latest discovery in a deepening scandal over the discovery of horse meat in ready meals sold as beef in supermarkets in Ireland, the UK and other European countries.

Markus Schreiber / AP, file

Ikea furniture stores also sell typical Swedish food.

A total of 1,675 pounds of the meatballs were stopped from reaching the shelves.

Ikea's furniture stores feature restaurants and also sell food typical of the company's home country, including the so-called Kottbullar meat balls.

It was not immediately clear whether Ikea exported the same product to other countries. Calls seeking comment from Ikea in Sweden were not immediately returned Monday.

The Czech authority also found horse meat in beef burgers imported from Poland during random tests of food products.

Authorities across Europe have started doing random DNA checks after traces of horse meat turned up in frozen supermarket meals such as burgers and lasagna beginning last month.

The European Union's agriculture ministers gathered in Brussels Monday to discuss the widening scandal's fallout, with some member states pressing for tougher rules to regain consumer confidence.

The 27-nation bloc must agree on binding origin disclosures for food product ingredients, starting with a better labeling of meat products, German agriculture minister Ilse Aigner said.

"Consumers have every right to the greatest-possible transparency," she insisted.

From lasagna and burgers to children's sweets containing gelatin, horse meat has been discovered in a wide variety of "beef" products, leaving Europeans to wonder what they're really eating. NBC's Keir Simmons reports.

The scandal began in Ireland in mid-January when the country's announced the results of its first-ever DNA tests on beef products. It tested frozen beef burgers taken from store shelves and found that more than a third of brands at five supermarkets contained at least a trace of horse. The sample of one brand sold by British supermarket kingpin Tesco was more than a quarter horse.

Such discoveries have spread like wildfire across Europe as governments, supermarkets, meat traders and processors began their own DNA testing of products labeled beef and have been forced to withdraw tens of millions of products from store shelves.

More than a dozen nations have detected horse flesh in processed products such as factory-made burger patties, lasagnas, meat pies and meat-filled pastas. The investigations have been complicated by elaborate supply chains involving multiple cross-border middlemen. 

Related:

Horse meat in the US? Unlikely, but tests are rare

'Fraud on a massive scale': Europe's horse meat scandal keeps on growing

'Criminal conspiracy' blamed for European horse-in-burger scandal

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