Ikea’s headquarters in the United Arab Emirates said this week its meatballs sold in the country were in line with Islamic food regulations, following a recent recall of Ikea meatballs from 14 European countries after horse meat traces were found.
The Swedish furniture giant said it would still send a batch of its meat products for tests, as an extra precautionary measure, Gulf News reported, citing an Ikea official and a statement released by the company on Thursday.
“The trust of our customers is of utmost importance to us, which is why last week we have taken extra-precautionary measures by sending a batch for DNA laboratory testing in Abu Dhabi. We expect test results next week to confirm that there are no indications of any ingredients than the ones stipulated in our recipes and specifications,” the statement read.
Meatballs served at Ikea’s UAE stores are halal certified and imported from Saudi Arabia, not from the same source as the packaged meatballs from Europe, the statement added.
Last month, European authorities detected horse meat in frozen meatballs labeled as beef and pork and sold in 13 countries.
The Czech State Veterinary Administration said that horse meat was found in one-kilogram packs of frozen meatballs made in Sweden and shipped to the Czech Republic for sale in Ikea stores there. A total of 760 kilograms of the meatballs were stopped from reaching the shelves.
Ikea spokeswoman Ylva Magnusson said meatballs from the same batch had gone out to Slovakia, Hungary, France, Britain, Portugal, the Netherlands, Belgium, Spain, Italy, Greece, Cyprus and Ireland. Magnusson said meatballs from that batch were taken off the shelves in Ikea stores in all those countries. Other shipments of meatballs were not affected, she added.
In January, after the discovery of pig DNA in its “beef” products, UK’s biggest retailer Tesco apologized to “customers who do not consume pork,” in reference to Muslims, saying it was seeking further detailed information on the matter.
The scandal had broken out when an investigation by the Food Safety Authority of Ireland (FSAI) found traces of horse and pig DNA as high as 29% in some cases, in products labeled as ‘beef’ sold at retailers in Tesco.
“We understand and share the concerns of our customers who do not consume pork and we apologize to them,” London-based Tesco spokesperson told Al Arabiya in an email.
She also confirmed that the World’s third largest retailer does not have stores in the Middle East and that it does not export meat to the region.
However, Tesco does have outlets in Turkey and Malaysia, where Muslims are a majority; for her part, she confirms that “the three products that are the subject of this investigation are not sold in or exported to Turkey or Malaysia.”
“All meats sold by Tesco Malaysia are Halal certified by the Islamic Religious authorities both at the Federal and State level,” she said. “In Turkey, at Tesco Kipa, all our meat is halal with the exception of a small number of imported, pre-packed, branded pork products which we sell to meet the needs of our non-Muslim customers.”
The spokesperson said Tesco does not have any plans to open stores in the Middle East.