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Carmarthenshire food firm withdraws cottage pies over horsemeat contamination fears

By LeeMacGregor  |  Posted: February 20, 2013

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FOOD firm Castell Howell Foods has withdrawn one of its suppliers' cottage pies from sale over a possible horsemeat contamination.

The firm, with sites in Cross Hands and Carmarthen, stressed today it was not one of its own lines and some other media reports were inaccurate.

The company said it was told the pies from Irish ready-meal supplier Oak Farm could be contaminated with horsemeat on Friday.

Castell Howell director Brian Jones said the firm had contacted customers who received deliveries of the pies.

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Oak Farm has launched an investigation.

"Castell Howell is currently in the process of finalising verification from suppliers of frozen processed products containing beef," said Mr Jones.

"Supplier reports received to date have confirmed that ingredients are in accordance with declared product specifications with the exception of the multi-portion cottage pie product supplied by Oak Farm which has been recalled as a precaution due to the possibility of containing some horse meat.

"Customers affected have been contacted and sales have been suspended pending further notification from the manufacturer.

"At this point in time no other Oak Farm products are known to be affected."

Mr Jones said his firm sources its supply of Welsh beef, pork and lamb direct from the farm and is audited regularly against European traceability standards to ensure integrity of supply.

"All Celtic Pride products are made with Welsh beef that is fully traceable from farm to processing unit," he added.

"To comply with legislation all processed and primal beef carries a traceability code that gives full transparency across the supply chain.

"All other suppliers of beef into Castell Howell Butchery have confirmed the products supplied have been in line with declared product specifications and that there is no risk of equine content.

"Independent tests on products have been carried out by the company with no adverse results."

An Oak Farm Foods spokeswoman said: "The quality and safety of our products is of the utmost importance to Oak Farm Foods. The company has produced ready meals, soups and sauces for the past 25 years and has an exemplary record in terms of food quality and safety standards.

"Following the discovery of equine DNA in one of our products we launched a full internal investigation into the matter. Now that we have received the necessary information we have issued notification to all customers holding any potentially affected product from this product line.

"While the company carries out extensive testing on all its products DNA testing has not been widely available or the norm in the industry. However, given recent issues Oak Farm Foods has instigated a new regime that includes DNA tests. We can confirm that all tests for equine DNA on products to date have tested negative."

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