No horse DNA in latest tests
No traces of horse DNA were found in samples of beef burgers taken from Liffey Meats last week, Minister for Agriculture Simon Coveney said tonight.
The tests were carried out by his department after an investigation by the Food Safety Authority of Ireland found traces of horse DNA of less than 0.1 per cent in three samples of burgers produced by the plant in Ballyjamesduff, Co Cavan late last year.
Mr Coveney described the latest results as “very positive news”. IFA president John Bryan said it was a very welcome development in the Department of Agriculture’s investigation and would provide the necessary reassurance to consumers.
Mr Coveney pointed out that the Food Safety Authority had noted that where horse or pork meat was not used as an ingredient, but was inadvertently or accidentally present at low levels, they would not be declared on the label.
The Food Safety Authority study had also found that the ABP-owned Silvercrest Foods plant in Ballybay, Co Monaghan had produced a burger for Tesco’s Everyday Value range with 29 per cent horse DNA, relative to beef content.
Last Thursday night ABP Food Group temporarily suspended production at the plant following new test results which showed that burgers made at the plant last week still contained horse DNA.
The exact amount of horse DNA found in the burgers will be known later this week when results from tests being carried out in Germany are ready. Mr Coveney said investigations were continuing “at an intensive level” in relation to identifying the source of the horse DNA at the Co Monaghan plant. “This work includes further quantitative laboratory analysis of a range of samples, both burgers and raw ingredients,” he said.
“In addition, detailed analysis of records held by the company relating to the sourcing of ingredients and the incorporation of these ingredients in the manufactured burgers that have tested positive for equine DNA is being conducted.”
The ABP Food Group said the Silvercrest plant would not resume production until its investigations were complete. These investigations were still centred on third-party ingredient suppliers from the continent. A spokeswoman said the plant had never knowingly bought or processed horse meat and was still shocked by a finding of 29 per cent equine DNA in the burger sampled in the Food Safety Authority survey.
Earlier, Fianna Fáil leader Micheál Martin accused the Government of being more concerned with the media management of the burger crisis, than with dealing with the issue.