Iceland boss apologises for comment about 'the Irish'
“I’d like to think that it was because of Ireland’s testing system and vigilance that this issue was exposed”, he said. Ireland would now “lead the way” to permanently incorporate DNA testing into food safety checks as well as looking at the horse passport issuing system, he said.
Mr Coveney said he suspected the problem had been going on a “bit longer” than when first discovered.
“Shipments of cheap beef trimmings have been coming into Ireland for a year or maybe more. But you can’t say with certainty unless you have the test to back that up,” he said.
Iceland said it accepted the authority “obtained valid test results from an accredited laboratory using a methodology that is commonly used in the burger industry elsewhere in the world”.
However, it pointed out that the head of the British Food Standards Authority told a House of Commons committee it was “not an accredited test” in the UK. The frozen food retailer also said it accepted “that equine contamination of 0.1 per cent is not acceptable, either to us or our customers”.
Earlier the Irish authority had hit back at criticisms of its DNA testing methods which Mr Walker had made to British trade publication the Grocer.
In a statement, it said a small segment of the retail sector was seeking to undermine the results “in an attempt to distance themselves from the scientifically sound results which have implications for their product”.
The authority said the DNA tests were conducted by two internationally recognised laboratories – Identigen in Dublin and Eurofins laboratories in Germany.
The authority noted that the recently proposed EU testing regime used a 1 per cent limit as a cut-off point but said the finding of 0.1 per cent in Iceland’s case was “still relevant and should of itself trigger investigation”.
Food Safety Authority of Ireland chief executive Prof Alan Reilly said it was “unprofessional that a vested interest would seek to undermine our position with misinformation and speculation”. He also said some UK media reports were claiming that the authority did the survey after receiving a tip-off. “The FSAI again states that there is no truth in this whatsoever; the survey was undertaken as part of our routine monitoring.”
Meanwhile, Greencore resumed production at its Bristol plant yesterday, after horse DNA was discovered in a sauce produced at the facility.