Burger King tests 'clear of horse DNA'


Tests carried out by Burger King on burgers produced by the Silvercrest plant have come back negative for horse DNA, but the company will not be renewing its contract.

The fast food chain is one of four major companies which have cancelled orders for frozen burgers made by the Co Monaghan plant, which is part of the ABP Food Group owned by Larry Goodman.

Burger King carried out an internal investigation including scientific tests, inspection of the Silvercrest facility and scrutiny of traceability records over the last fortnight.

It has been using approved suppliers from Germany and Italy as a precaution since.

The Co-operative Group announced yesterday that independent tests of its own-brand burgers supplied by Silvercrest had found traces of less than 1 per cent horse DNA in three samples and 17.7 per cent in one sample.

Tesco had already been found to have been supplied with a burger which was 29 per cent horse meat.

Tesco, Aldi and the Co-operative Group announced yesterday they would not be taking any more burgers produced by Silvercrest.

Burger King’s vice president of global quality Diego Beamonte said the failure to deliver 100 per cent British and Irish beef patties was a violation of contracts, and apologised to customers.

“While the Food Safety Authority of Ireland has stated that this is not a food safety issue, we are deeply troubled by the findings of our investigation and apologise to our guests, who trust us to source only the highest quality 100 per cent beef burgers,” he said.

“Our supplier has failed us and in turn we have failed you. We are committed to ensuring that this does not happen again.”

Mr Beamonte said the company would consider what additional measures, including DNA testing and enhanced traceability controls, could be taken to ensure quality was maintained.

Silvercrest had a contract to supply Burger King in the UK, Ireland and Denmark.

Fears are growing for the future of the plant, which remains closed today.

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.

The Unite trade union is 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.

President of the Irish Farmers’ Association John Bryan today called for tighter regulations and increased inspections at meat processing plants, and greater traceability of imported food products.

“There has to be a much tighter level of supervision on the use of the Irish logo, on the use of Irish quality marks if Ireland is to maintain its reputation as a quality food producer,” he said.

Mr Bryan added that supermarket own-brand products were resulting in a “race to the bottom” in price, which was resulting in lower standards of quality.