Irish-Polish relations may suffer from scandal
Last night’s news that another manufacturer of frozen burgers had been drawn into the horse meat scandal will do nothing to improve Polish-Irish relations.
Both the Department of Agriculture and the burger manufacturer, Rangeland Foods, pointed the finger firmly at Polish product as the source of the horse meat found in a consignment of beef product.
Polish beef product has already been named by Minister for Agriculture Simon Coveney as the most likely source of the 29 per cent horse DNA found in a Tesco Everyday Value burger made by the Silvercrest Foods plant.
These latest results found 75 per cent horse DNA in the Polish raw material.
But Polish investigators have questioned the Silvercrest results and maintain the Polish suppliers are just one link in a chain of suspects. They have suggested the horse meat could have been added somewhere on the journey from Poland to Ireland.
Poland’s minister for agriculture, Stanislaw Kalemba, told The Irish Times last week that the accusations from Ireland were unacceptable and were not based on sound evidence. For his part, the Minister for Agriculture has gone from being 100 per cent confident of the Irish test results to “110 per cent certain” of their veracity last night.
He has pointed to the extensive paper trail and testing and retesting of results, both at home and abroad, before they were made public.
He will be questioned in detail on this today when he meets the Oireachtas Committee on Agriculture, along with the Food Safety Authority of Ireland’s chief executive, Prof Alan Reilly.
The question now is: where will all this end? Will other burger manufacturers and meat processors be implicated in the days and weeks ahead as the Department of Agriculture continues to try to establish whether Polish-labelled products have been used in other meat-processing plants?
Its special investigation unit has been drafted in and Mr Coveney has also sought the involvement of gardaí in the inquiry.
Mr Coveney said he had ordered the involvement of the special investigation unit following yesterday’s results and “facts uncovered in the investigation at Silvercrest and inquiries north of the border”.
The list of companies dragged into the horse meat scandal continues to grow with the news that Rangeland Foods supplied Supermac’s with its burgers.
However, Supermac’s managing director Pat McDonagh has insisted that the Polish product had nothing to do with his burgers.
He says they are 100 per cent Irish and tests have confirmed this since the scandal broke.
What other food outlets will be drawn into this controversy before it is resolved?