Hospitals will still get processed beef products


NORTHERN IRELAND:Processed beef products, including burgers, will continue to be supplied to the North’s hospitals while “rigorous testing” is carried out to determine if any more have been contaminated with horse meat.

The announcement came as the UK’s Food Standards Agency said no new cases of horse meat in the food chain had been found as a result of their most recent tests. Of 2,501 tests they conducted, 2,472 came back negative.

FSA chief executive Catherine Brown said the results were encouraging for the UK food industry. “The overwhelming majority of beef products in this country do not contain horse,” she said. “The examples we have had are totally unacceptable. But they are the exceptions.” A number of batches of frozen beef burgers were withdrawn from use in hospitals across the North on Thursday after DNA testing revealed between 5-30 per cent horse meat.

The burgers were sourced from Rangeland Foods in Co Monaghan, which was yesterday continuing to withdraw a total of 9,200 burgers found to have contained equine DNA. The burgers had been distributed throughout the UK. Affected burgers have likely already been eaten in hospitals and healthcare facilities in all four of the North’s health trusts.

The Business Services Organisation, set up to provide services for the North’s health trusts, yesterday said it had commissioned new tests on food it sources. Chief executive David Bingham said that the latest scare was “not so much a public-health issue as a public-confidence issue”.

“Last week you had burgers withdrawn from schools and then put back on the menu,” he said. “That’s the kind of thing we don’t want happening; it undermines public confidence.”