Swiss-based firm Nestle has removed beef pasta meals from shelves in Italy and Spain after tests revealed traces of horse DNA.
Nestle, the world’s biggest food company, halted deliveries of products containing meat from a German supplier.
The company is the latest in a string of major food producers to find traces of horsemeat in beef meals.
A spokesman for Nestle said levels of horse DNA were very low but above 1%.
Last week the firm said its products did not contain horsemeat.
Nestle withdrew two chilled pasta products, Buitoni Beef Ravioli and Beef Tortellini, in Italy and Spain.
Lasagnes a la Bolognaise Gourmandes, a frozen product for catering businesses produced in France, will also be withdrawn.
A spokesman for the company said Nestle had identified a problem with a supplier from Germany.
A statement on the Nestle website identified the supplier as HJ Schypke, a sub-contractor of JBS Toledo, a major meat processing company based in Belgium.
“There is no food safety issue, but the mislabelling of products means they fail to meet the very high standards consumers expect from us,” the statement said.
Nestle has removed beef pasta meals from shelves in Italy and Spain after tests revealed traces of horse DNA
In addition to removing the three affected products from sale, Nestle would be “enhancing our existing comprehensive quality assurance programme by adding new tests on beef for horse DNA prior to production in Europe”, it added.
The news that Nestle is now having to withdraw some foods, shows the problem is far wider than previously thought and, critics say, how dangerously unregulated the food industry has become.
The widening scandal over mislabelled horsemeat has affected at least 12 European countries, including Switzerland, where the retailer Co-op – famous for its broad range of organic, locally-sourced food – was on Monday forced to remove nine different products from its shelves.
Last Wednesday, Co-op said it had found horsemeat in its own-brand frozen lasagne produced by the Comigel food processing company in France.
Co-op now faces possible charges of negligence from the Swiss authorities.
France meanwhile partially lifted a production ban for another meat processing firm, Spanghero.
The French government revoked its licence last week over suspicions that Spanghero knowingly sold horsemeat labelled as beef, an allegation the company rejects.
The French authorities said that unwitting workers should not be penalized.
As a result Spanghero will be allowed to produce minced meat, sausages and ready-to-eat meals, but not to stock frozen meat.
Meanwhile the UK and Germany have also both pledged to step up testing of frozen food products.
Food Standards Agency (FSA) in UK has announced that the meat of some beef lasagne products recalled by Findus earlier this week was 100% horsemeat.
On Monday, Findus withdrew from retailers its beef lasagne in 320g, 360g and 500g sizes as a precaution.
Environment Secretary Owen Paterson said the findings were “completely unacceptable”, but Findus said it did not believe it was a food safety issue.
The FSA said companies would now be required to test their beef products.
“In order to get to the bottom of this, we’re going to be requiring every company to test every product line,” said Catherine Brown, the FSA’s chief executive.
“If we find any other cases, we will pursue our investigations vigorously until we find out what’s happened and put a stop to it.”
Catherine Brown said it was “highly likely” that criminal activity was to blame for horsemeat being found in some meals.
The FSA said Findus had tested 18 of its beef lasagne products and found 11 meals containing between 60% and 100% horsemeat.
People have been warned not to eat the products, which were made for Findus by French food supplier Comigel.
The FSA said: “We have no evidence to suggest that this is a food safety risk. However, the FSA has ordered Findus to test the lasagne for the veterinary drug phenylbutazone, or <<bute>>.
“Animals treated with phenylbutazone are not allowed to enter the food chain as [the drug] may pose a risk to human health.
“The Findus beef lasagne was distributed to the main UK supermarkets and smaller convenience stores. Findus has already begun a full recall of these products.
“People who have bought any Findus beef lasagne products are advised not to eat them and return them to the shop they bought them from.”
FSA in UK has announced that the meat of some beef lasagne products recalled by Findus earlier this week was 100 percent horsemeat
Owen Paterson said the presence of unauthorized ingredients “cannot be tolerated”.
“The responsibility for the safety and authenticity of food lies with those who produce it, and who sell or provide it to the final consumer. I know that food producers, retailers and caterers are as concerned as we are at the course of recent events,” he said.
He said the government was working closely with businesses to “root out any illegal activity” and enforce regulations.
Findus said the product was manufactured by a third party supplier and not by Findus. The frozen food company said all its other products had been tested and were not affected.
Findus said in a statement: “We understand this is a very sensitive subject for consumers and we would like to reassure you we have reacted immediately. We do not believe this to be a food safety issue.
“We are confident that we have fully resolved this supply chain issue.
“We would like to take this opportunity to apologize to our customers for any inconvenience caused.”
This week supermarket chains Aldi and Tesco, as well as Findus UK, withdrew some beef products from sale after concerns were raised at their French supplier.
Comigel alerted Findus and Aldi that their products “do not conform to specification”.
They advised them to remove Findus Beef Lasagne and Aldi’s Today’s Special Frozen Beef Lasagne and Today’s Special Frozen Spaghetti Bolognese.
Tesco also decided to withdraw Everyday Value Spaghetti Bolognese.
The Tesco product was produced at the same Comigel site but there was no evidence of contamination, the supermarket said.
The wider food contamination controversy arose in mid-January when Irish food inspectors announced they had found horsemeat in some burgers stocked by a number of UK supermarket chains including Tesco, Iceland and Lidl.
Asda has withdrawn products supplied by Newry-based Freeza Meats which was storing meat found to contain a high proportion of horse DNA. Two samples were found to contain 80% horsemeat.
The horsemeat controversy has hit the Irish meat-processing industry, with a number of suppliers on both sides of the border affected.
The survey “aims to identify and understand factors that may lead to the presence of meat species that are not labelled as an ingredient, so that this can be explained, eliminated or correctly labelled”.