LONDON — First centered on Britain and Ireland, the scandal over beef products adulterated with horse meat escalated across continental Europe on Tuesday after Nestle, one of the world’s best-known food companies, said it was removing pasta meals from store shelves in Italy and Spain.
Nestle, which is based in Switzerland, said it had increased testing after the discoveries of horse meat in British foods and ‘‘traces’’ of horse DNA in two products made with beef supplied by a German company, H.J. Schypke.
The involvement of Nestle is a significant act in a fast-moving drama that is forcing Europeans to question the contents of their meals.
Before the announcement, the horse meat crisis had already spread, with perhaps a dozen countries caught up in product recalls.
Nestle said it was confident that products in the US market were unaffected.
“Nestle USA does not use meat sourced from Europe,’’ a company statement said. ‘‘Additionally, USDA meat inspectors are in all processing plants and also have responsibility to oversee any imported meat. We have also requested and received confirmation from all our meat suppliers that they do not provide Nestle USA with any meat from the affected countries and companies.’’
The United States does not import beef from any of the countries where the contaminated meat was found, according to the Department of Agriculture.
Two chilled Nestle pasta products, Buitoni Beef Ravioli and Beef Tortellini, are being taken off supermarket shelves in Italy and Spain. Lasagnes a la Bolognaise Gourmandes, a frozen meat product made for the catering trade in France, will also be withdrawn. None of those products is imported from Europe into the United States, Nestle said.
The levels of horse DNA in the products were above the 1 percent threshold used by the British Food Standards Agency as an indicator of adulteration in testing being conducted by Britain’s food industry, Nestle said in a statement.
“There is no food safety issue, but the mislabeling of products means they fail to meet the very high standards consumers expect from us,’’ Nestle added.