Ikea stops selling its own brand of meatballs in 24 countries

Ikea meatballs ban goes global

Ikea's sales ban on its own brand of meatballs is now in force in 24 countries due to fears that the food could contain horsemeat, writes AFP.

The Swedish furniture giant has now pulled its one-kilogramme bags of meatballs from its stores in Hong Kong, Thailand and the Dominican Republic, adding to the list first published on Monday when news broke from the Czech Republic that authorities there had found horsemeat in Ikea's meatballs.

"It's an important product for us, so the measure is significant but we don't want our clients to worry," Ikea spokeswoman Ylva Magnusson told AFP.

Meanwhile, Sweden's Agriculture Minister Eskil Erlandsson wants the country's National Food Agency to take over responsibility for monitoring smaller meat processing plants after the horsemeat scandal spread to Ikea. Currently, the NFA has responsibility only for larger meat plants.

However, the Swedish Association of Local Authorities and Regions (SKL) tells Swedish Radio News today that Erlandsson's proposal is a "bad idea" and control should not be centralised.

Swedish Radio writes that municipal control of smaller meat producing plants has previously been criticised by sectors of the food industry for having deficiencies in supervision. SKL, however, says that its controls work well and local control has benefits to the consumer.

"Municipalities are close to local people and local people have the opportunity to talk to us about something. We can act quickly," says SKL's Ann-Sofie Eriksson to Swedish Radio News.