Shares tumble as ripples spread
A man enters the Greencore factory building in Bristol. photograph: getty images
GREENCORE:Shares in Irish food group Greencore fell 9.5 per cent in the wake of revelations that a bolognese sauce it made for British supermarket giant Asda contained horse meat.
The fall to 92.5 pence was the greatest drop on the FTSE All-Share Index yesterday. Earlier in the day the group’s share price plunged by 22 per cent, its largest fall in 14 years.
At the company’s agm two weeks ago, outgoing chairman Ned Sullivan said thousands of audits were carried out each year at plants internally, by customers and externally, by regulatory bodies.
Taoiseach Enda Kenny said yesterday there was no conflict of interest for Minister for Agriculture Simon Coveney, whose brother Patrick is chief executive of Greencore. Mr Kenny said Mr Coveney had been acting in a swift, effective and comprehensive manner to deal with what had become a pan-European problem.
Greencore said beef in the sauce withdrawn from Asda shelves was sourced from ABP Food Group’s plant in Nenagh, Co Tipperary, but informed sources have said the abbatoir’s sole source of meat is traceable cattle from local farmers. ABP declined to comment. Production at the Larry Goodman-owned Silvercrest Foods remains suspended with staff on full pay.
Traces were found
Another affected company, Rangeland Foods, said yesterday it had decided to withdraw all untested produce containing meat of Polish origin, following the discovery three days ago of equine DNA in burgers it supplied to the British market last September. It said the horse DNA traces were found in a consignment of UK BG Rangeburgers, using EU beef from EU approved suppliers, last year.
Last week after consultation with the Department of Agriculture, Rangeland recommenced production at its Co Monaghan plant, using only Irish raw materials. In a statement yesterday, it said “all produce manufactured by Rangeland use Irish-only meat and Rangeland has implemented a comprehensive DNA assessment of beef intake and products, and test every batch before release to the food chain, for any trace of equine DNA”.
In a separate development Sinn Féin’s agriculture spokesman Martin Ferris has published amending legislation to tighten up food safety regulation and traceability. The five-page Food Safety Authority of Ireland (Amendment) Bill provides for all produce labelled as Irish to list the place of origin of all ingredients.
Mr Ferris acknowledged that labelling was an EU-wide responsibility but said “we are in a very strong position now” to bring this about given that Ireland was the first to take action on the issue.
Meanwhile the Food Safety Authority has welcomed the appointment of a new chairman, Professor Michael Gibney. He is professor of food and health at UCD’s Institute of Food and Health and is described as a world-leading expert in food science and nutrition. – (Additional reporting from Bloomberg)