Co-operative joins Tesco in cancelling Silvercrest contract
The Co-operative Group has joined Tesco in cancelling its contract for frozen beef burgers from the Silvercrest plant in Ballybay, Co Monaghan at the centre of the horse meat controversy.
Independent DNA tests carried out by the British supermarket chain on two lines of burgers produced for them by Silvercrest found traces of horse DNA in four out of 17 samples.
One sample contained 17.7 per cent horse DNA, while three other samples contained less than one per cent.
A Co-operative spokesman said it had become apparent that the burgers, which were withdrawn from sale in their supermarkets on January 16th, did not meet the specifications they had set with the producer. “We specify that all meat in our frozen burgers should be 100 per cent British, but we now strongly believe that some of the meat used to produce these burgers came from outside the UK and was not British in origin, and as a result we have taken the decision to delist Silvercrest as a supplier with immediate effect,” he said.
Tesco announced this morning it will no longer source its beef burgers from Silvercrest, which is owned by ABP Food Group, as a result of the controversy.
In a statement, Tesco said the evidence indicated Silvercrest used meat in products that did not come from the list of approved suppliers given to them by the retailer. Ingredients from a supplier in Poland have emerged as the most likely source of the meat found in a burger supplied by Silvercrest which contained 29 per cent horse DNA relative to beef content.
The group's technical director Tim Smith said the meat did not come from the UK or Ireland, "despite our instruction that only beef from the UK and Ireland should be used in our frozen beef burgers.”
Mr Smith said the breach of trust was simply too great. “Consequently we have decided not to take products from that supplier in future," he said. The retailer also announced it will introduce a comprehensive system of DNA testing across its meat products as a consequence of the controversy.
Tesco Ireland chief executive Tony Keohane said this morning that the company would look to source its frozen burgers from other Irish beef processors in the near future, and continue to purchase Irish beef worth €177 million a year, including meat from other companies owned by ABP. “The change in our buying relates only to frozen burgers from the Silvercrest plant which is valued at €15 million a year,” he said.
Today, ABP chief executive Paul Finnerty apologised for failures at the Silvercrest plant, saying its business had been based on trust but it had let down its customers. “We have learnt important lessons from this incident and we are determined to ensure that this never happens again,” he said.