What North Americans know as moose and Europeans call elk apparently make a tasty meal. Since January, consumers in Europe and Asia could find the animal’s meat in lasagna sold at the Swedish furniture giant's stores. But recently there has apparently been a little something else inIKEA’s Elk Lasagna that consumers weren’t aware of: pork.
This isn't the first meat mix-up that IKEA has dealt with, as the company was one of several retailers implicated in the horse meat scandal that has swept across Europe. IKEA has been forced to remove its famed Swedish meatballs from its restaurants and frozen food aisles, and adding to its meat woes, the brand has just pulled nearly 18,000 units of its elk lasagne from its stores and websites after authorities in Belgium discovered the product contained a percentage of pork meat.
Ikea's frozen Lasagne Älg entree was described on its Hong Kong website as "Alternate layers of pasta sheets, minced elk meat, and Bèchamel sauce. Heat and serve as it is." It was sold in-store and online in Europe—Hungary, Ireland, Finland, Poland, Austria, Portugal, Norway, Belgium, Great Britain, Switzerland, Czech Republic, Spain, Slovakia, Germany, Italy, Netherlands, France and Sweden—and in Hong Kong and Macau.
Responding to the Belgian authorities' ban on the product, IKEA responded that it does not "tolerate any other ingredients than the ones stipulated in our recipes or specifications," as a spokesperson for the Swedish retail giant told the BBC. The retailer pulled the product in late March after its supplier took the blame for the meat contamination. Anders Lennartsson, head of sustainability at IKEA, also told Sweden’s TheLocal that the problem stems from “a failure to clean the premises properly between the handling of different animals.”
IKEA said in a statement that it is stepping up its supply chain management to avoid the problem going forward by “developing a comprehensive standard with requirements on traceability, slaughter, deboning and processing of meat products” that should all be in place by the end of this month, implemented over the next six months, and include “announced and unannounced audits.”
Credit to the brand for taking action and stepping up its food safety commitment, even as many observers were taken by surprise that IKEA sells moose meat in the frozen food section of its Swedish Food Markets. The Associated Press story on the news ("Pork found in Ikea's moose lasagna") elicited responses on Twitter such as Dave Levy's quip, "I'm starting to think we shouldn't buy meat from a furniture store."