Investigation will uncover source of horse meat, says Taoiseach
Taoiseach Enda Kenny said today he was ‘not satisfied’ the Government had got to the bottom of how horse meat ended up in beef burgers tested by the Food Safety Authority of Ireland this week.
Mr Kenny was speaking during a television interview with Sean O’Rourke on The Week In Politics Programme on RTÉ in response to reports that imported ingredients from Europe may not have been used in the production of Tesco burgers found to contain 29.1 per cent horse meat. However, sources have said investigations are still focusing on imported ingredients from continental suppliers.
APB Food Group, owned by Larry Goodman, has confirmed that it did not use imported ingredients to make the burgers for Tesco.
“I am not satisfied that we’ve come to the end of this yet. There’s a process in train here, these are very forensic tests,” Mr Kenny said.
“I’ve seen different reports now in respect of this issue which is a matter of reputation for our country. We’ve gained enormous respect internationally for the exceptionally high standards that we have here. That’s why these things were discovered in the first place. The process of examination is ongoing and that will determine what was the cause of this, where it came from, who was responsible and then we can deal with it.”
Asked where the horse meat was coming from if it wasn’t coming from abroad, Mr Kenny said the current investigation would uncover who was responsible.
He praised his Minister for Agriculture Simon Coveney on his handling of the issue.
“Simon Coveney has been very much on top of this and has been up front with the people insofar as the truth as we know it. The process is continuing and when we have the final evidence the Minister will publish it immediately."
Meanwhile, Larry Goodman has questioned the validity of DNA tests on his burgers by regulators and criticised what he called tabloid sensationalisation of the issue.
“We are talking about DNA testing and DNA will pick up molecules and something in the air,” he said.
“I would not be surprised if there was not cross-contamination of various species if one were to do DNA testing.”
When asked about the media coverage, Mr Goodman said he was “disgusted with some of the things that I see”. He denied that cost-cutting by his company was to blame for the contamination.
Mr Goodman said the company had never bought or traded in horse meat and he suspected the contamination came from a hamburger filler product sourced from a supplier on the Continent. “We have been let down,” he said.
He said there was intense pressure from retailers on cost, but this did not mean ABP Food Group used inferior products.
The company said it had “temporarily suspended” production at its Silvercrest plant in Monaghan, which is a supplier to Tesco and Burger King, following the disclosure by food safety authorities in Ireland that a second batch of tests had uncovered further contamination of burgers with horse meat.
Nine out of 13 burgers from the plant tested positive for traces of horse meat in a new set of DNA tests. Earlier this week a Tesco Everyday Value burger made at the Silvercrest plant was revealed to contain 29 per cent horse meat when tested.