Officials and meat firm deny Polish claims

Polish report says meat unfit for human consumption kept at Irish plant

The Department of Agriculture and ABP Food Group have rejected suggestions that meat unfit for human consumption that was being kept at a plant at the centre of the horse meat controversy could have entered the food supply chain

The Department of Agriculture and ABP Food Group have rejected suggestions that meat unfit for human consumption that was being kept at a plant at the centre of the horse meat controversy could have entered the food supply chain

Tue, Feb 25, 2014, 01:00

The Department of Agriculture and ABP Food Group have rejected suggestions that meat unfit for human consumption that was being kept at a plant at the centre of the horse meat controversy could have entered the food supply chain.

The suggestions come from an investigation into the horse meat scandal by the chief veterinary officer in Poland and subsequent comments by Polish inspectors to the Guardian newspaper. The report by the Polish chief veterinary officer was compiled as part of an investigation into the horse meat scandal.

The Irish Department of Agriculture’s investigations had found that beef trimmings containing horse meat had Polish labels. It invited the Polish authorities to come to Ireland and examine the consignments. The Polish report said its inspectors examined eight pallets of meat from a delivery of 22 pallets that had been destined for burger production at the Silvercrest plant.

The pallets had been detained in a refrigerated lorry in January 2013 after tests by the Food Safety Authority of Ireland detected horse DNA in beef burgers. Photographs of the meat showed it was a mixed batch of very poor quality and parts had turned green. Polish investigators say it was destined for burgers but must have been unfit for human consumption all along. When it was fully unpacked, they say they found old meat that was green and rotting or brown and had been deliberately mixed with fresher red meat.

The Guardian quoted veterinary inspector Katarzyna Piskorz, who said she believed some of the consignment had already been used. However, this was flatly rejected by ABP.

A spokeswoman for the Department of Agriculture said the frozen blocks of meat pieces referred to in the report had already been removed from storage, manipulated and sampled by the Irish authorities on more than one occasion.

“Such manipulation would have involved the removal of wrapping and labels, the partial disassembly of pallets and some drilling and sampling of the frozen blocks of meat,” she said. “Furthermore, the pallets would have been removed from storage on a number of occasions. All of this would have lead to deterioration in the quality and appearance of the meat.”

She said once the meat had been detained, there was never a question of its entering the food chain, and therefore no requirement to store it in conditions or to a standard required of food grade material.

A spokesman for ABP, which no longer owns the Silvercrest plant, said suggestions that the meat could have entered the food supply chain were “entirely without foundation”.

He added: “Photographs or analysis of the meat’s appearance over three weeks after its removal from the supply chain cannot credibly be used to draw any conclusions about the integrity of meat stored in a properly controlled environment.” – Additional reporting: Guardian service