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Horse DNA Found in Spain Burgers Amid Standards Concern

Jan. 29 (Bloomberg) -- Horse DNA has been found in two beef burger products sold in Spain, according to a report by the Spanish consumer organization OCU, adding to concern over food standards after similar discoveries in the U.K. and Ireland.

The products were sold by closely held supermarket chains Eroski and AhorraMas SA, the group said today, adding that the meat was “generally” of low quality.

OCU’s study follows tests by the Food Safety Authority of Ireland that found beef products that contained horse DNA. Tesco Plc, the U.K.’s largest grocer, was among supermarkets that withdrew some beef products earlier this month. The Irish agency said the beef didn’t pose any public health concerns.

Only five out of the 20 products analyzed in OCU’s study offered meat with an acceptable level of quality, the Spanish consumer body said. Eroski and AhorraMas’ own brand Alipende sold products that contained horse DNA without indicating it on their labels, the organization said.

“Results clearly show that consumers are being deceived because burgers sold have labels that don’t indicate the real ingredients,” OCU said in the report. “It is not a problem of food security, but it is a deceit to the consumer, who brings home a different product than the one he thinks he is buying.”

Some burgers sold by other retailers are too expensive and have very poor quality with high levels of salt, fat and additives, according to the report.

Eroski’s burgers “don’t pose any health risks,” the Basque Country, Spain-based company said in an e-mailed statement today. The potential existence of horse DNA in the meat could be derived from being in contact with horse during the manufacturing process, according to the statement.

AhorraMas, based in Madrid, said in a separate e-mailed statement it withdrew all Alipende burgers from its supermarkets after the OCU report was published. The chain doesn’t take part in the elaboration process of the burgers, it said.

To contact the reporter on this story: Manuel Baigorri in Madrid at mbaigorri@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Celeste Perri at cperri@bloomberg.net

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