FF criticises lack of data on burger inquiry


There is growing disquiet over the lack of information on the investigation into horse meat in burgers, Fianna Fáil spokesman on agriculture Éamon Ó Cuív has said.

He claimed yesterday Minister for Agriculture Simon Coveney was “drip-feeding” information on the inquiry into how a burger produced by Silvercrest Foods contained 29 per cent horse DNA, relative to beef content.

“He has failed to reassure farmers, producers, retailers and the general public that he is on top of this and dealing with it,” said Mr Ó Cuív.

He said Mr Coveney must attend an immediate meeting of the Oireachtas Committee on Agriculture to discuss the issue and called for a weekly briefing to the committee from department officials.

Mr Coveney received 24 preliminary results from Silvercrest beef burger samples from a laboratory in Germany on Thursday night, but said he would not be releasing the details until they had been confirmed in an Irish laboratory.

The 24 samples were among 130 taken since the news emerged that horse DNA had been discovered in beef burgers. The latest results will give the percentage of horse DNA present in the samples that have already tested positive for horse DNA.

Rejecting criticism over the investigation, Mr Coveney said Silvercrest was a very large processing facility producing 20,000 tonnes of burgers a year from a wide range of ingredients.

“The investigation is being carried out in a systematic fashion and this requires the correlation of all the information necessary to draw credible conclusions,” he said.

He said veterinary staff were also carrying out extensive examination of records at the plant to identify the list of ingredients in the batch of burgers tested. “I am not prepared to draw any conclusion until I’m fully satisfied that such conclusions are supported by facts.”

British supermarket Waitrose has become the latest retailer to pull burgers from its shelves as a result of the ongoing controversy. The company said it had taken frozen burgers made by Dalepak, one of the firms at the centre of the contamination investigation, off the shelves “as a precaution” .

Dalepak is part of the ABP Food Group, of which Larry Goodman is a director and chairman.