Feb. 25, 2013 at 12:50 PM ET
Shoppers who relish the popular meatballs sold in IKEA furniture stores in the United States don’t have to worry that they’re getting a serving of horse meat in their snacks, store officials said Monday.
The pork and beef used in Ikea meatballs in the U.S. comes from a domestic supplier and is not related to a recall of frozen meatballs in the Czech Republic, said Mona Liss, a store spokeswoman.
“We can confirm that the contents of the meatballs follow the IKEA recipe and contain only beef and pork from animals raised in the U.S. and Canada,” Liss said in a statement to NBC News. “All beef and pork from the U.S. and Canada must comply with USDA guidelines.”
IKEA pulled 1,675 pounds of one-kilogram packs of frozen meatballs made in Sweden and shipped to the Czech Republic for sale in IKEA stores after the Czech State Veterinary Administration detected traces of horse meat in the products, the Associated Press reported.
IKEA’s furniture stores worldwide feature restaurants and also sell food typical of the store’s home country, including the wildly popular Kottbullar meatballs.
IKEA is the latest global firm to grapple with a horse meat scandal that has been spreading through Europe for the past month. Food giants Nestle and Birds Eye recalled prepared meat products last week after tests detected horse meat in ravioli, lasagna and chili con carne. Both of those firms said that U.S. operations are separate and that no meat implicated in the European scandal has been used in food in America.
U.S. Department of Agriculture officials also told NBC News that it’s highly unlikely that beef or pork adulterated with horse meat will make it into the nation’s food supply. Strict labeling and inspection requirements are aimed at making sure all meats are what they say they are.
However, USDA officials also acknowledge that testing for specific species in shipments of meat is conducted only when there’s reason to suspect a problem.
In 1981, shipments of boneless beef from Australia were found to be adulterated with both horse meat and kangaroo. That finding forced the detention and inspection of more than 66 million pounds of meat – and led to stricter inspection efforts, USDA officials said.
European officials are conducting random DNA tests after traces of horse meat began turning up in frozen beef patties and prepared foods in the past month.
More than a dozen nations have now detected horse meat in various products.