OTTAWA (AP) _ Illegally imported British meat products have been seized from eight stores by the Canadian Food Inspection Agency.

The survey of retailers was prompted by the discovery of unapproved British meat products _ including chicken, pork and beef products _ in two British specialty stores in Calgary.

By Friday, similar products were found in stores in Halifax, Nova Scotia; Richmond, British Columbia, and four stores in and around Toronto.

Officials said names of retailers and the dollar value of the seized products would not be released until the survey is completed.

The products were removed because there is no way of knowing whether the meat was prepared to conform to Canadian standards, said Lou Skrinar, an agency spokesman.

The agency is trying to determine how the products made it into Canada without being discovered.

Skrinar said it is likely the retailers were independently importing relatively small quantities that would not have raised suspicions at customs.

Canada, along with other countries, has banned British beef since a link was suspected in 1996 between eating beef infected with so-called mad cow disease. But that is only one factor in the current sweep, said Skrinar.

``This is not a BSE recall,'' said Skrinar, referring to bovine spongiform encephalopathy, the scientific name of the disease.

``It's about any meat product. Obviously the beef is going to be a little more sensitive, but it's being dealt with within the context of the illegal importation.''

Susan Rudner, British High Commission spokeswoman, said the commission is not sure how the products entered the country, but they are safe.

``There's no reason to believe these items are unsafe. These items are sold in the UK and wouldn't be sold there if the British government thought they were risky in any way.''