Silvercrest staff fear for jobs as major contracts lost

Thu, Jan 31, 2013, 00:00

Fears are growing for the future of the Silvercrest Foods plant in Monaghan following the news that Tesco, Aldi and British supermarket chain The Co-operative Group have withdrawn their frozen beef burger contracts from the Ballybay plant.

Last week, Burger King said it was sourcing an alternative supplier following the revelation by the Food Safety Authority of Ireland that a beef burger produced at the plant contained 29.1 per cent horse DNA.

It has been estimated the Tesco and Burger King contracts account for about half of Silvercrest’s output. The Co-operative Group said it would not disclose the value of its contract with Silvercrest. The Tesco and Burger King contracts are believed to be worth €45 million.

Aldi said in a statement it had ended its contract due to a serious breach of contract by Silvercrest in relation to the agreed product specification.

The Unite trade union said it was seeking a meeting with management of the Larry Goodman-owned ABP Food Group, which owns the plant, to keep workers up to date. The facility employs 112 people.

Unite regional officer Claire Keane said the union had more than 70 members across different companies and plants within the ABP Food Group .

Yesterday, The Co-operative Group said it had conducted independent tests on frozen own-brand burgers supplied by Silvercrest and one sample contained 17.7 per cent horse DNA. Small traces were found in three other samples. The burgers were withdrawn as a precaution when the FSAI announced its findings earlier this month.