Processors and retailers start investigations
Reaction:The meat processing firms and supermarkets supplying the affected burgers said they were investigating how the products became contaminated with horse and pig DNA.
The beef burger products which tested positive for horse DNA were produced by two processing plants (Liffey Meats and Silvercrest Foods) in Ireland and one plant (Dalepak Hambleton) in the UK. They were on sale in Tesco, Dunnes Stores, Lidl, Aldi and Iceland.
Liffey Meats in Cavan said it sincerely regretted that any product produced by the company would not conform to the highest specifications and it apologised to its customers.
The company said it has withdrawn from sale all products identified by the Food Safety Authority of Ireland (FSAI) tests.
“The FSAI tests found minute traces of non-beef DNA in the company’s beef burgers.
“The company believes it has identified the source of the contamination. Liffey Meats is purely a beef processor and has absolute traceability on all of the beef used. The source of the contamination is imported ingredients and these will be replaced from other sources before production is resumed and customers are supplied.”
It added that in two of the three samples the levels as reported by the FSAI “are so low as to be at the Limit of Quantification and for the other sample the level detected is reported as less than 0.1 per cent”.
Monaghan-based Silvercrest Foods, a subsidiary of ABP Foods, said that although the products pose no risk to public health, it has taken immediate action to isolate, withdraw and replace all suspect product. “Silvercrest has never purchased or traded in equine product and has launched a full-scale investigation into two continental European third-party suppliers . . . suspected source of the product in question,” it said.
Tesco said it withdrew all affected products from sale and were working with the authorities in the Republic and the UK and with the supplier concerned “to urgently understand how this has happened and how to ensure it does not happen again. We will not take any stock from this site until the conclusion and satisfactory resolution of an investigation,” it said. It apologised for any distress.
Aldi Stores (Ireland) said it takes the quality of all its products seriously and demands the highest standards from suppliers. “In addition, Aldi carries out regular independent testing of all meat products it sells,” it said.
It said it removed the affected product from sale and launched an investigation. “We have sought information from one supplier, Silvercrest, which is dealing directly with the FSAI on the issue that has been raised,” it added.
Iceland Foods said it noted with concern the FSAI statement and had withdrawn the two own-brand quarter pounder burger lines implicated in the study. “Iceland will be working closely with its suppliers to investigate this issue and . . . meet the high standards of quality and integrity that we specify and which our customers are entitled to expect,” it said.
Lidl Ireland said it was committed to maintaining the highest quality standards and had removed all implicated products from sale, pending a full investigation.
Dunnes Stores did not respond to queries last evening.