Coveney promises to expose any fraud in horse meat controversy
McAdam Foods, a meat trader based in Co Monaghan, confirmed a team of special investigators from the Department of Agriculture had been inspecting its premises and its deals with Polish suppliers.
The company specialises in delivering beef and pork products throughout Ireland and Northern Ireland. It also exports meats into the UK, Germany, Denmark and much of northern Europe.
In a statement this evening, McAdam Foods said management and staff at the company were "shocked and astonished" to discover that equine content has been identified in products which have been imported and supplied by them.
"McAdam Foods is a reputable and well run business and is compliant with all required food industry standards and regulations," it said.
The source of these products is Polish and McAdam Foods has identified the specific Polish supplier names to the Irish authorities. McAdam Foods states and confirms that any such products were bought and imported on the basis of their being ordered, documented, labelled and understood to be beef, and nothing else. The company has supplied all such labels and documentation to inspectors of the Department of Agriculture and the FSAI."
Professor Alan Reilly, whose research at the FSAI first exposed the contamination of processed beef burgers in Irish-made products, also briefed the Oireachtas committee this afternoon.
"The net is tightening for sure but the investigations have some way to go," Prof Reilly said before the hearing. "We are no longer talking about trace amounts... We are talking about horse meat. Somebody, some place is drip-feeding horsemeat into the burger manufacturing industry. We don’t know exactly where this is happening."
Prof Reilly said the level of horse DNA found meant there had to be "some level of fraud going on". This was why gardaí had been asked to get involved in the investigation. All checks by Irish and UK authorities have shown the contaminated or mislabelled meat has come from Poland, either directly, or through traders in the UK or one trader in Ireland.
Mr Coveney said he had asked An Garda Síochána to get involved in an inquiry led by his department’s special investigation unit.
Rangeland Foods, based in Castleblayney Co Monaghan, employs about 80 people and has a turnover of some €18 million, according to its website.
It said the beef consignment had come from Poland in early January and did not go into production.
Mr Coveney confirmed last night his department had received a test result confirming 75 per cent horse DNA in a raw material ingredient at Rangeland Foods. The raw material was imported through a meat trader based in Ireland.
A spokesman for Rangeland Foods said it had asked a German laboratory to carry out DNA tests on its ingredients following the controversy involving Silvercrest Foods, also in Co Monaghan.
The tests were positive for horse DNA and the company notified the Department of Agriculture on Thursday evening. Results of tests conducted by the department were received yesterday.