The European Commission has found horse meat in up to 5% of the beef products it has tested as part of a wide-ranging programme.

Preliminary results of the three month testing programme, which began after horsemeat had been found in a batch of Findus frozen lasagna in February, were released today.

Authorities across 27 EU countries conducted 7,259 tests, 4,144 of which were for horse meat and 3,115 were for the banned anti-inflammatory horse drug phenylbutazone (bute). The tests found 193 samples contained horse meat and 16 bute.

Tests revealed that the highest levels of horse meat were found in French beef, followed by Greek beef. However there were no traces of horsemeat found in UK beef products, after the Food Standards Agency conducted 150 tests for the Commission, which returned no positive results.

A plethora of UK grocers including Tesco, Asda, The Co-operative, Iceland, Aldi and Lidl have been implicated in the scandal which began in January. Asda last week recalled batches of its Smart Price corned beef after tests revealed low levels of bute in some of the products.