Comigel, which also produced the contaminated Findus beef lasagnas, has blamed its suppliers. Erick Lehagre said he believed his company was buying French beef from a company called Spanghero but it had since told him it had come from Romania.
A spokesman for Aldi said random tests had shown that the products they had withdrawn contained between 30% and 100% horsemeat.
“This is completely unacceptable and like other affected companies, we feel angry and let down by our supplier. If the label says beef, our customers expect it to be beef. Suppliers are absolutely clear that they are required to meet our stringent specifications and that we do not tolerate any failure to do so,” he said.
The company added that it would test the meals for the veterinary drug phenylbutazone, often referred to as bute, but said it was confident the meals were safe.
“We believe that the two particular cases are linked to suppliers in Ireland and France respectively,” an Aldi spokesperson said. “We and the Food Standards Agency (FSA) are working closely with the authorities in these countries, as well as with Europol, to get to the root of the problem.”
Aldi says that, while the food was safe, consumers are encouraged to return products to retailers.
“The French authorities are saying they are viewing the issue as a case of fraud rather than food safety. Anyone who has these products in their freezer should return them to retailers as a precaution.”
Reports are being denied that there was prior knowledge about horsemeat being in products last year.
Hospitals and education authorities were also checking the food they provide for traces of horsemeat. A spokeswoman for the Local Authority Caterers Association said: “We are as sure as we can be that this is not affecting the school catering area.”