Horse DNA in burger samples leads Tesco to withdraw meat

DNA tests revealed that some burgers from British supermarket chain Tesco contained horse meat, an embarrassment for a company working to improve its reputation.

LONDON – British supermarket chain Tesco said on Tuesday it has withdrawn a number of beef burgers from sale after samples were found to contain horse DNA in tests.

The burgers that had tested positive were produced in two plants in Ireland and one in the United Kingdom and sold by several retailers, the Food Safety Authority of Ireland said in a separate statement.

The Irish authorities said most of the affected burgers contained very low levels of horse DNA, but in one Tesco sample horse meat accounted for about 29 percent of the content.

VIDEO: Horse meat found in UK grocery meat

The case is potentially embarrassing for Tesco, which is fighting to turn around a slide in its market share by improving perceptions of its quality and service.

"We are working with the authorities in Ireland and the U.K., and with the supplier concerned, to urgently understand how this has happened and how to ensure it does not happen again," said Tesco in a statement on Tuesday evening.

Horse meat poses no health risk to consumers, but culturally it is not eaten in the U.K. and Ireland.

Tesco, the world's third largest retailer after Wal-Mart and France's Carrefour, entered the U.S. market in 2007 with the convenience-store concept Fresh and Easy. Nearly 200 stores eventually opened in California, Nevada and Arizona. But disappointing sales led to an announcement last December that the company was scaling down its plans and is seriously considering abandoning its U.S operations entirely.

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