Coveney to explain how Poland found to be source of horse meat


Minister for Agriculture Simon Coveney is due before an Oireachtas agriculture committee tomorrow to explain how Government test results found Poland to be the source of horse meat in burgers.

Polish authorities refute the results of the Department of Agriculture’s “painstaking” 10-day audit, which found that country to be the most likely source of horse meat in beef burgers produced by Silvercrest Foods in Co Monaghan.

DNA test results in Poland on Friday, however, showed no signs of horse meat in samples from five production facilities sending beef to Ireland. Results from a sixth are due today.

“All 14 samples coming from the five slaughterhouses showed negative results, which means that horse protein was not detected,” Jaroslaw Naze, deputy head of the national veterinary inspectorate said.

“Such accusations not grounded by any sound evidence are inacceptable, regardless of what they pertain to,” Stanislaw Kalemba, Poland’s minister for agriculture told The Irish Times.

Rogue ingredient

Mr Coveney, who will appear before the committee with Food Safety Authority of Ireland chief executive Alan Reilly, is set to explain how he can be confident the rogue ingredient is from Poland. The Minister has so far declined to name the suspected producer, saying it was a matter for the Polish government.

Committee members are likely to decide tomorrow to call executives from Larry Goodman’s ABP Group, owners of Silvercrest Foods, to appear before them as soon as Thursday. Members of the committee, chaired by Fine Gael TD Andrew Doyle are set to quiz management on why the company used ingredients that have cost it millions in lost business.

In a statement, the group said while it hadn’t yet received an invitation from the committee, it would “carefully consider” any formal request to do so.

Meanwhile, a Co Tyrone company has been named as the supplier of halal food to UK prisons found to contain traces of pork DNA. Food distributor 3663 identified Strabane-based McColgan Quality Foods Limited as the source of “the very small number of halal savoury beef pastry products” found to contain the DNA.

A spokesman for McColgan’s said in a statement: “McColgan’s can confirm that it is proactively co-operating with the Food Standards Agency and its local representatives following the discovery of trace elements of porcine DNA in a limited number of halal-certified pastry products which are supplied to 3663 as part of its contract to the prison service.

“McColgan’s has already taken swift measures to identify, isolate and withdraw all of the products which are supplied to the prison service while an investigation to determine the circumstances surrounding this deeply regrettable and unforeseen incident takes place.

“McColgan’s is keen to stress that at no point has pork of any kind been included in the recipes of any of the halal-certified products it supplies.”

Other customers of McColgans, which supplies sausages rolls and meat pies, include Lidl, Nisa, Spar and Costcutter.