The Netherlands food watchdog has recalled 50,000 tons of meat labelled as beef from companies across Europe. The meat, linked to Dutch company Selten, is suspected of containing horse.
The Netherlands' Food and Consumer Product Safety Authority requested that 370 companies across Europe halt the sale of beef products as a "precautionary measure" on Wednesday after it was revealed the origin of the meat was unclear.
In a statement the food authority warned that while the source of the meat could not be traced "its safety cannot be guaranteed." It added, however, that Dutch authorities have "no concrete indications that there is a risk to public health."
More than 130 companies in the Netherlands have been affected by the latest recall. Businesses in other European countries, including Germany, France and Spain who bought meat from the wholesalers, have also been notified.
The recall covers meat bought from two Dutch trading companies: Wiljo Import en Export B.V. and Vleesgroothandel Willy Selten B.V, a spokeswoman for the Netherlands Food and Consumer Product Safety Authority, Esther Filon, told news agency AP. Both companies have the same owner.
The concerns applied to meat sold between January 1, 2011 and February 15 this year, Filon added, meaning that much of the meat "may already have been consumed."
The recall hits an industry already plagued by scandal following the discovery of horsemeat in numerous products falsely labelled as beef and other meats.
The scandal began in Ireland in mid-January when results of the country's first-ever DNA tests on beef products were announced.
A series of similar discoveries were made in more than a dozen countries across Europe as wider testing began, with horse meat detected in burger patties, lasagnas, meat pies and meat-filled pastas.
ccp/msh (AP, AFP, dpa)