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Wal-Mart UK chain: Horsemeat found in pasta sauce

NEW YORK (AP) -- Shares of Wal-Mart Stores Inc. declined nearly 2 percent on Friday after a British supermarket chain that it owns announced that it found evidence of horsemeat in a pasta sauce it sold.

THE SPARK: On Thursday Asda said it was taking a beef Bolognese sauce off of its shelves after tests indicated the presence of horse DNA. The company also said it would pull three other products from the same supplier as a precaution.

Asda, owned by Wal-Mart, previously withdrew four other products that tested positive for horse DNA.

Asda said in a statement on its web site that it was "moving swiftly to remove products from sale as a precaution even when there is no direct evidence that one of our own products is affected."

The company apologized to its customers for "any worry, upset or inconvenience" the situation has caused and said that it was working hard to ensure that customers could have complete confidence in its food.

A representative for Wal-Mart could not be immediately reached for comment. There has been no suggestion the products were distributed anywhere outside the U.K.

THE BIG PICTURE: Wal-Mart, based in Bentonville, Ark., is the world's biggest retailer.

The horsemeat scandal is growing in Britain, with officials announcing Friday that tests have found horsemeat in school meals, hospital food and restaurant dishes there.

The U.K. Food Standards Agency said Thursday that eight out of 206 horses it checked had tested positive for phenylbutazone, commonly known as bute. The drug is banned for human use in countries including Britain and the U.S.

The scandal erupted after Irish authorities found traces of horse DNA in frozen burgers last month. It has grown to take in companies and countries across Europe.

SHARE ACTION: Wal-Mart's stock declined $1.25 to $69.57 in afternoon trading. The shares are down less than 1 percent over the past three months.