QK Meats 'to investigate supply'
Beef lasagne was one of three Birds Eye ready meals withdrawn from sale on February 22nd. Photograph: Neil Hall/Reuters
QK Meats, the Irish company named as the supplier of horse meat found in two Birds Eye products, has begun a full investigation into its supply chain, it said in a statement released today.
QK Meats said it had “never knowingly” incorporated horsemeat into any of its beef products.
“The quality and safety of our products is of the utmost importance to QK Meats. The company has been operating for the past 25 years and has an exemplary record in terms of food quality and safety standards,” the company said in a statement.
“Following the discovery of equine DNA in product allegedly supplied by QK Meats to Frigilunch NV, a supplier to Birds Eye, QK Meats has launched a full investigation into its supply chain.”
Earlier today, frozen foods manufacturer Birds Eye named the Naas-based processor as the source of meat supplied in two ready meals - spaghetti bolognese and beef lasagne.
Birds Eye withdrew the meals, made by Dutch company Frigilunch NV on February 22nd, after horse DNA was found in a product sold by Frigilunch NV in Belgium.
Subsequent tests on the withdrawn beef lasagne found it contained less than ten per cent horse DNA while the spaghetti bolognese contained under five per cent horse DNA.
This morning, Birds Eye said its investigations had found that Frigilunch NV “was itself supplied meat with horse in it by an Irish meat processor QK Meats”.
“Frigilunch NV’s own independent tests and investigation have confirmed our findings,” the company said in a statement.
“We have reported these findings to the FSAI and Frigilunch NV has taken immediate action and suspended them as a supplier of meat.”
It said all other meat suppliers to Frigilunch NV had been given the all-clear.
QK Meats is part of the Arrow Group which also owns QK Cold Stores. The latter company notified the Department of Agriculture last month that it found horse meat in consignments of frozen beef trimmings imported from Poland.
The Arrow Group also owns Dawn Fresh Foods. It was linked with the horse meat scandal last month when its UK division Oak Farm Foods was found to have supplied cottage pies containing horse meat which were withdrawn from schools by Lancashire County Council.
In a message to customers this morning, Birds Eye said it had completed a comprehensive DNA testing programme on all its beef meat products.
“We have now tested all products multiple times through multiple samples over a period of four weeks. During this process none of our Birds Eye beef burgers, beef pies and traditional beef dinners tested positive for horse DNA.
“In total we have tested 250 products across Europe and confirmed three products as containing horsemeat.”
It said it had introduced “a new on-going triple lock DNA testing programme that will ensure no minced beef meat product can reach supermarket shelves without first having been cleared by three stages of DNA testing”.
“We are now demanding, and have agreed with all suppliers, that they DNA test all products entering their premises. They will then DNA test products leaving their premises. Birds Eye will then conduct its own DNA tests before products go to shops.”