Under scrutiny ... there are now 24 countries that have pulled the meatballs from sale at Ikea stores. Photo: AFP
Swedish furniture giant Ikea has expanded to 24 the number of countries where it has pulled its meatballs from sale over fears that the popular food could contain horsemeat.
The Ikea-label meatballs have now been pulled from stores in Hong Kong, Thailand and the Dominican Republic in addition to the host of European countries, Ikea spokeswoman Ylva Magnusson told AFP on Tuesday.
"It's an important product for us, so the measure is significant but we don't want our clients to worry," she said.
Magnusson said that a German laboratory was currently testing the meatballs for traces of horsemeat, with the first results expected on Thursday.
On Monday Ikea said that it had withdrawn the meatballs from sale in 16 European countries after Czech authorities found horsemeat in the product.
Ikea insisted that it had not found any horsemeat during in-house tests on its own range of food products, carried out two weeks ago.
One kilogram bags from the suspect batch of frozen meatballs had been pulled from the shelves in Slovakia, the Czech Republic, Hungary, Britain, Portugal, Italy, the Netherlands, Belgium, Spain, Cyprus, Greece and Ireland, the company said.
Stores in Sweden, Denmark, France and Romania withdrew meatballs from sale as a precautionary measure but Ikea said there was no horsemeat in the meatballs served in its stores in the United States.
Ikea is the latest group to become caught up in a Europe-wide scandal over the presence of horsemeat in ready-made dishes that erupted in January when horse DNA was detected in beefburgers in Britain and Ireland.