OSLO – Ready-made lasagne meals sold in Norway have been found to contain horsemeat, top retailer Norgesgruppen said on Friday, the first confirmation that the Europe-wide meat scandal has reached the Scandinavian nation.
The scandal, which has triggered recalls of ready meals and damaged confidence in Europe's vast and complex food industry, erupted last month when tests carried out in Ireland revealed that some beef products also contained horsemeat.
Norgesgruppen, Norway's biggest retailer with several food store chains, took the lasagne meals affected, sold under the "First Price" label, off store shelves at the end of last week, when suspicions first arose that they may contain horsemeat.
"When we found out that one company involved in the horsemeat case in Europe was a firm we were customers of, we immediately withdrew the meals from our stores and out of distribution," Norgesgruppen communications director Per Roskifte told Reuters.
The company sent the products for analysis and has now received confirmation that they contained horsemeat.
"We got this meat from a producer based in Luxembourg, who got the wrongly labeled raw product from its suppliers," said Roskifte.
Norgesgruppen said it was too early to say whether it would take any legal action.
"We are in a close dialogue with the Norwegian food safety authority. We will see what they would like to do," said Roskifte.
"This is a new issue for us. We have never been exposed to this type of scoundrel behavior before."
(Reporting by Joachim Dagenborg; Editing by Hugh Lawson)