4.8% equine DNA in Greencore sauce


A bolognese sauce produced by Irish food group Greencore for UK supermarket chain Asda contained 4.8 per cent equine DNA, according to test results released tonight.

The listed convenience food group, which saw its share price tumble by almost 10 per cent yesterday after being linked to the horse meat scandal, said it was going to carry out ?a thorough and comprehensive investigation? to determine how its supply chain had been compromised.

?Greencore only sources products from customer and Greencore approved suppliers, which are regularly audited, and insists that they in turn use approved suppliers,? the company said in a statement.

Packs of the Chosen By You 350g beef bolognese sauce were withdrawn by Asda on Thursday night.

Greencore said the sauce contained meat supplied by the ABP Food Group?s plant in Nenagh, Co Tipperary, bringing Larry Goodman?s group under the spotlight again. Last month a burger produced by its Silvercrest Foods plant in Monaghan was found to contain 29 per cent horse meat. The plant remains closed.

ABP said it had carried out a traceability study on the beef sent to Greencore to make the product and that it was satisfied the Nenagh plant was not the source.

On Thursday, Asda also withdrew a beef broth soup, a chilli con carne soup and a meat feast pasta sauce made by Greencore as a precaution. None were found to contain horse DNA.

Greencore Group plc has 23 convenience foods manufacturing sites in the UK and the US and employs about 11,000 people. Its chief executive is Patrick Coveney, brother of Minister for Agriculture Simon Coveney.

Another affected company, Rangeland Foods, said yesterday it had decided to withdraw all untested produce containing meat of Polish origin, following the discovery three days ago of equine DNA in burgers it supplied to the British market last September. It said the horse DNA traces were found in a consignment of UK BG Rangeburgers, using EU beef from EU approved suppliers, last year.

Last week after consultation with the Department of Agriculture, Rangeland recommenced production at its Co Monaghan plant, using only Irish raw materials. In a statement yesterday, it said ?all produce manufactured by Rangeland use Irish-only meat and Rangeland has implemented a comprehensive DNA assessment of beef intake and products, and test every batch before release to the food chain, for any trace of equine DNA?.

In Britain, three men who were arrested by police investigating the horse meat mis-labelling scandal have been released on bail. Officials continued to examine evidence today from three more plants.

The Food Standards Agency (FSA) said it had passed on evidence from two premises in Tottenham and one in Hull to Europol - the European Union?s law enforcement agency - after investigators, accompanied by police officers and local authority officials, removed meat samples for testing.

The move comes after Dafydd Raw-Rees, 64, the owner of Farmbox Meats near Aberystwyth, and a 42-year-old man, were arrested in Wales on Thursday on suspicion of offences under the Fraud Act.

A 63-year-old man was also arrested on suspicion of the same offence at Peter Boddy Slaughterhouse in Todmorden, West Yorkshire.

The men have been released pending further inquiries and will return to answer bail in Aberystwyth at a later date, Dyfed Powys Police said.

The FSA has conceded it is unlikely the exact number of people in the UK who have unwittingly eaten horse meat will ever be known. Chief executive Catherine Brown said that testing was the right way to address the issue, and said the focus would be on areas of higher risk.

But she admitted that the number of people who had unknowingly eaten horse meat was likely to be impossible to ascertain.

?I don?t think that we ever will (know how many), because these tests are a snapshot, so even where we find things it is very hard to work out how long, what number of batches, so I think it is unlikely that we will ever know that. It is shocking,? she told the BBC.

Her comments came as the head of a major UK supermarket chain insisted that the horse meat scandal was not ?the tip of an iceberg?.

Justin King, chief executive of Sainsbury?s told BBC?s Newsnight programme that supermarkets had not been slow to react to the scandal, but conceded there was a long way to go before the food industry could fully explain how the crisis has come about.

He said last night: ?I don?t think it?s the tip of an iceberg. I think there are some encouraging signs from today?s tests that we are starting to get to the bottom of this particular issue.

?We, in Sainsbury?s, have a huge testing programme ? we have 50-odd people whose full-time jobs are to test product.

?They test raw materials when they come into the factory. The product is delivered to our warehouses and we buy product, as customers do, to test it too. And most of the industry would say something similar...So we go to great lengths to ensure our food is what we expect it to be. Trust is the core of our businesses.?

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