The Food Standards Agency has said its official testing programme for horse DNA in processed meat products will now cover 514 samples instead of the 224 it initially announced.

The tests, which will be conducted through local authorities, will run in three phases: the first phase, which has already started, will focus on testing 224 samples of minced beef products, such as burgers and meat balls.

The second phase will test 140 samples of frozen, chilled or tinned ready meals or prepared meals, such as lasagne, chilli con carne, ravioli and cottage pie, and will include products sold loose in in foodservice outlets.

Testing for this phase started on 14 February, and the FSA said it expected it to be completed by this Friday (22 February).

The third phase will see an additional 150 samples tested as part of the EU-wide testing programme announced by the European Commission. These will once again cover various processed meat products but will also include gelatine, beef dripping, stock cubes and primary cuts such as steak.  #

The FSA said this phase would start at the beginning of next week, and would involve a different set of local authorities to the 28 used in phases one and two. Furthermore, whereas phases one and two would check for both undeclared horse and pig DNA, the third, EC-led phase would only check for horse.

The results of all three phases would be published, and specific brand names would be named, the FSA added. “Initial findings will be available from the end of February and the FSA will disclose any formal action taken in April,” it added.

Industry tests

The FSA’s announcement comes as the next wave of industry test results is set to be published on Friday (22 February). Last week, the first results showed that 29 out of 2,501 samples had tested positive for more than 1% horse DNA. This did not yet include the recent horse DNA discoveries at Whitbread or Asda’s Chosen By You fresh bolognese sauce, made by Greencore, which has since tested for 4.8% horse DNA.