Plant suspends production after burgers test positive
He welcomed the investigation and said it was very important for Ireland’s reputation as we prided ourselves on having world-class beef.
The burgers were bought in Tesco, Dunnes Stores, Iceland, Aldi and Lidl. The tests also found pig DNA in 85 per cent of burgers tested.
Owned by Larry Goodman
Department of Agriculture staff began an investigation at Silvercrest Foods, which is owned by Larry Goodman’s ABP Food Group.
A British plant, Dalepak Hambleton, also part of the ABP group, was found to have produced Iceland quarter pounders containing traces of horse DNA.
Liffey Meats in Ballyjamesduff, Co Cavan, was also found to have produced burgers with traces of horse DNA.
British prime minister David Cameron told MPs that “people in our country will have been very concerned to read this morning that when they thought they were buying beef burgers they were buying something that had horse meat in it”. He said this was “a completely unacceptable state of affairs” and the British food standards agency would work with companies to investigate the supply chain.
The British government said criminal prosecutions could follow the investigation.
But environment minister David Heath said standards were generally very high in the British food industry and backed the Food Standards Agency’s (FSA) risk-based checking system.
Answering an urgent question from Labour’s shadow environment secretary Mary Creagh in the House of Commons, Mr Heath acknowledged the seriousness of the discovery.
He said: “It is very important neither you, nor anyone else in this House, talks down the British food industry at a time when the standards in that industry are of a very high level.
“Because something has been discovered in Ireland, which is serious, which may lead to criminal proceedings, does not undermine the very serious efforts which
are taken by retailers, by processors and by producers in this country to ensure traceability and ensure standards of food that are available to consumers.”
Sinn Féin's agriculture spokesman Martin Ferris called on Minister for Agriculture Simon Coveney to respond to Mr Heath's statement.
“[Mr] Heath’s statement adds a new dimension to this whole business. Is the implication of what he says that the horsemeat was both criminally and knowingly imported with the knowledge of Irish or British based processors? It is important that the Minister comment on this given the cloud that currently hangs over the Irish beef processing industry. All information pertaining to the case must be made public," he said.
Writing in today’s Irish Times, Dr Patrick Wall, UCD’s associate professor of public health, said it was sad that at least 10 million frozen burgers were likely to be destroyed because horse DNA at a level of 29 per cent was found in one burger. He also said Ireland’s competitors were quick to criticise our controls and standards “yet few if any of them use similar testing technologies in their own supply chains”.
Supermarket giant Tesco has placed full-page adverts in a number of national newspapers apologising to customers for selling beef burgers containing horse meat. It has also promised to refund customers who bought the contaminated products, and said sorry for the “unacceptable” situation.
Additional reporting: PA