Finnish food company donates horsemeat kebabs to poor

Finnish food company donates horsemeat kebabs to poor

HELSINKI - Agence France-Presse
Finnish food company donates horsemeat kebabs to poor

Butcher Sean Basey works behind a "no horsemeat" sign at Bates Butchers in Market Harborough, central England, February 20, 2013. REUTERS/Darren Staples

Finnish food company Pouttu on Monday said it plans to donate kebab dishes found to contain horsemeat to charities for the poor, after receiving the green light from food safety authorities.

"It's good if we can help those most in need," Pouttu production manager Esko Virta said.

The company said around a dozen charities have expressed interest in distributing the kebab dishes to the poor, but that deliveries can only begin once cold trucks have been organised to deliver the food.

Pouttu last week withdrew more than five tonnes of kebab dishes from sale after internal company tests found traces of horsemeat in products listing other meats on their labels.

About 1.7 tonnes of dishes containing horsemeat that were still in Pouttu's stocks will be donated. Initially fresh, the dishes were frozen last week after the horsemeat was discovered.

Horsemeat labelled as beef products that had already reached store shelves, and which have since been pulled, did not get the go-ahead from the Finnish Food Safety Authority, Evira, since Pouttu could not guarantee they had been kept cold.

Evira also stipulated that the donated food needs to be clearly identified as containing horsemeat. Unlike other food companies hit by the European horsemeat scandal, Pouttu said it knew the origin of the horsemeat, and that only the labelling had been erroneous.

"We produce several dishes from horsemeat that come from Brazil and Canada, and we have certificates of origin from our suppliers," chief executive Pekka Kosonen said last week.

Pouttu said it got the idea to donate the food to the poor from social media users who were concerned about the environmental effects of destroying tonnes of meat.