Show Hide image

Nestlé removes two pasta products from shelves

Traces of horse DNA detected.

Nestlé has removed Buitoni Beef Ravioli and Beef Tortellini chilled pasta products from shelves in Italy and Spain as traces of horse DNA above 1 per cent were detected.

In addition, the company also withdrew Lasagnes à la Bolognaise Gourmandes, a frozen meat product produced in France, from sale. Nestlé further said it has suspended deliveries of all processed products containing meat from German supplier H.J. Schypke, which was subcontracted by JBS Toledo, part of Brazil-based JBS.

Meanwhile, JBS Toledo said that none of the tainted products came from its factories and clarified that H.J. Schypke “is not in any way part of the JBS Group”.

Nestlé said: “We are also enhancing our existing comprehensive quality assurance programme by adding new tests on beef for horse DNA prior to production in Europe.”

In a meeting with the UK environment secretary Owen Paterson, the British retailers and manufacturers said to complete the testing of beef products in the next two weeks.

According to Ilse Aigner, food and agriculture minister for the federal government, the 10-point plan from Germany promises to go beyond the EU programme in looking for any other undeclared additives.

Many believe equine testing is just the tip of the iceberg. “I am sure this will rapidly move on to other species,” said Adam Couch, chief executive of Cranswick, a meat and pastry goods supplier.

In its survey, consumer research group Nielsen found that more than two-thirds of British adults would be less likely to buy frozen meat products in the future. Meanwhile, sales of frozen burgers for the week ended 2 February were declined by 40 per cent.

Getty Images.
Show Hide image

Is anyone prepared to solve the NHS funding crisis?

As long as the political taboo on raising taxes endures, the service will be in financial peril. 

It has long been clear that the NHS is in financial ill-health. But today's figures, conveniently delayed until after the Conservative conference, are still stunningly bad. The service ran a deficit of £930m between April and June (greater than the £820m recorded for the whole of the 2014/15 financial year) and is on course for a shortfall of at least £2bn this year - its worst position for a generation. 

Though often described as having been shielded from austerity, owing to its ring-fenced budget, the NHS is enduring the toughest spending settlement in its history. Since 1950, health spending has grown at an average annual rate of 4 per cent, but over the last parliament it rose by just 0.5 per cent. An ageing population, rising treatment costs and the social care crisis all mean that the NHS has to run merely to stand still. The Tories have pledged to provide £10bn more for the service but this still leaves £20bn of efficiency savings required. 

Speculation is now turning to whether George Osborne will provide an emergency injection of funds in the Autumn Statement on 25 November. But the long-term question is whether anyone is prepared to offer a sustainable solution to the crisis. Health experts argue that only a rise in general taxation (income tax, VAT, national insurance), patient charges or a hypothecated "health tax" will secure the future of a universal, high-quality service. But the political taboo against increasing taxes on all but the richest means no politician has ventured into this territory. Shadow health secretary Heidi Alexander has today called for the government to "find money urgently to get through the coming winter months". But the bigger question is whether, under Jeremy Corbyn, Labour is prepared to go beyond sticking-plaster solutions. 

George Eaton is political editor of the New Statesman.