Fears over a Europe-wide food fraud scandal concerning horsemeat sold as beef have spread to Hong Kong after an imported brand of “beef” lasagne was pulled from shelves, officials said Wednesday.
Hong Kong authorities last week ordered a top local supermarket chain to remove the lasagne made by frozen food giant Findus, one of the firms at the centre of the scandal.
The product was imported from Britain and made by French firm Comigel. Western food is popular in the Asian financial centre, which has a large population of expatriates.
Hong Kong’s Centre for Food Safety urged locals not to consume the item, which it said “might be adulterated with horsemeat which has not undergone tests for veterinary drugs”.
The product had been sold at supermarkets run by ParknShop, one of the biggest supermarket chains in the southern Chinese city and owned by tycoon Li Ka-shing.
“The product was removed from our stores last week following the government’s instructions,” a ParknShop spokeswoman told AFP Wednesday.
The chain has about 280 stores in Hong Kong and the neighbouring gaming hub of Macau.
A spokeswoman at the government’s food and environmental hygiene department said authorities would monitor the food fraud scandal closely but only one contaminated product had so far been sold in Hong Kong.
Neither the supermarket nor the government could give the number of the Findus frozen beef lasagnes that were recalled in the city.
Checks by AFP found no similar action regarding suspect food had so far been taken in Indonesia, the Philippines or Malaysia.
Concerns about horsemeat first emerged in mid-January when Irish authorities found traces of horse in beefburgers made by firms in Ireland and Britain and sold in supermarket chains including Tesco and Aldi.
The scandal intensified when Comigel alerted Findus this month to the presence of horsemeat in the meals it had made for the food giant and which were on sale in Britain.
Since then, supermarket chains have removed millions of “beef” products as tests are carried out to detect horsemeat.