Burgers may be sold to pet food producers
Burgers taken off shop shelves as a result of the horse meat scandal may be sold to pet food producers, following a change of mind by the ABP Food Group.
It had originally planned to destroy more than 10 million burgers produced by the group after a food safety study found the presence of horse DNA in burgers produced by Silvercrest Foods and its UK Dalepak Hambleton plant.
Silvercrest Foods produced one burger with 29 per cent horse DNA relative to beef content. An ABP spokeswoman said the original decision to destroy the product had been put on hold following discussions with various experts.
While no definitive decision had been taken, she said selling the burgers to pet food producers was a “possibility”.
UCD associate professor of public health Patrick Wall said the most likely option would be to reconstitute the withdrawn product as pet food as it was unlikely to reenter the human food chain given the recent controversy.
Concerns were expressed about the waste of so much food when it was initially reported the burgers would be destroyed. Prof Wall said: “Consumers are entitled safe and nutritious food. You can’t have degrees of safety, it has to be safe full-stop. The labelling regulations are there to protect all tiers of society not just affluent people.”
Meanwhile, Burger King has confirmed its representatives are planning a trip to Ireland in the next week or so to meet the Department of Agriculture and Silvercrest Foods. A spokesman for the fast-food chain said it wished to discuss the measures being put in place at Silvercrest. He said Minister for Agriculture Simon Coveney had held a 1½-hour conference call with Burger King on Saturday and the company was heartened by his responses on many of the issues.
No decision has yet been made yet on when the Silvercrest plant in Ballybay, Co Monaghan, will reopen, the ABP spokeswoman said. “There are no plans for redundancies, normal conditions of employment remain in place and staff continue to be paid,” she said.
Asked about progress with the new safety precautions announced by Mr Coveney at the weekend, she said: “Work on the Silvercrest facility is ongoing.”
Mr Coveney said he had asked that all stock be removed from the facility and a deep cleanse be carried out. Department officials will have a permanent presence at the plant for at least six months, and the ABP group has started a new DNA-testing regime.
Meanwhile, Spanish consumer organisation OCU has said its research found horse DNA in two beef burger products sold in Spain. The products were sold by supermarket chains Eroski and AhorraMas, the OCU said. Only five out of the 20 products analysed offered meat with an acceptable level of quality.