All patient meals which contain frozen beef products have been withdrawn from North Devon District Hospital after the suppliers confirmed traces of horse DNA had been found in some of its products.
The hospital confirmed all frozen beef products would be removed from patient menus and retail outlets at the hospital with immediate effect.
The decision was taken by Sodexo, the company which provides catering at the hospital, after one of its products tested positive for equine DNA.
Iain Roy, director of facilities for the Northern Devon Healthcare NHS Trust, said the hospital supported the decision.
He said: “We fully support and understand Sodexo's decision to be proactive in withdrawing all frozen beef products from its catering operations in the UK.
“At NDDH, these products are all from third party suppliers and many of them are household names, but they have only been recalled as a precaution.
“Sodexo has rigorous testing measures in place and patients, visitors and staff can be reassured that no frozen beef products will return to our patient menus or retail outlets until such time as we and Sodexo have gained full assurance regarding the traceability and DNA testing of these products, which must meet laboratory test criteria.”
Sodexo, a catering company which supplies food to schools, care homes and the armed forces, said the situation was “totally unacceptable”.
A spokesman for Sodexo said: “To reassure our customers, Sodexo has decided to withdraw all frozen beef products from its UK catering operations with immediate effect.
“Despite repeated guarantees from our suppliers, our sampling has identified frozen beef products which tested positive for equine DNA. This situation is totally unacceptable.
“We felt the only appropriate response was to withdraw not only this product but all frozen beef products. We will only re-admit into our catering operations products that have affirmatively passed DNA testing, pursuant to laboratory test criteria.
“We have notified the FSA of our findings and will assist fully in its investigation. We have also launched our own investigation to understand how this regrettable situation arose.”
It is the latest company to announce that its products have tested positive for equine DNA. On Friday, Birds Eye said it was withdrawing three beef ready meals from sale in the UK and Ireland. The move follows tests that found 2% of horse DNA in a chilli con carne dish sold by Birds Eye in Belgium.
Birds Eye’s spaghetti bolognese, shepherd’s pie and lasagne are made by the same Belgian manufacturer, Frigilunch NV, and are being withdrawn “as a precautionary measure”.