Horse DNA found in Polish product at Irish plant


A new controversy involving horse meat in beef burgers emerged last night when frozen burger producer Rangeland Foods suspended production following the discovery of 75 per cent horse DNA in Polish beef product.

Rangeland Foods supplies burgers to Supermac’s fast food chain as well as other fast food restaurants and the food service industry.

Supermac’s managing director Pat McDonagh said the product in question bore no relevance to Supermac’s burgers, which were “100 per cent Irish, fully traceable back to the farm and DNA tested to prove that it is 100 per cent Irish beef”.

He said tests on Supermac’s products had confirmed they were 100 per cent Irish beef and Rangeland had also confirmed this was the case.

Minister for Agriculture Simon Coveney said he had asked An Garda Síochána to get involved in an inquiry led by his department’s special investigation unit.

Rangeland Foods, based in Castleblayney Co Monaghan, employs about 80 people and has a turnover of some €18 million, according to its website.

It said the beef consignment had come from Poland in early January and did not go into production.

Test result

Mr Coveney confirmed that his department had received a test result confirming 75 per cent horse DNA in a raw material ingredient at Rangeland Foods. The raw material was imported through a meat trader based in Ireland.

A spokesman for Rangeland Foods said it had asked a German laboratory to carry out DNA tests on its ingredients following the controversy involving Silvercrest Foods, also in Co Monaghan.

The tests were positive for horse DNA and the company notified the Department of Agriculture on Thursday evening. Results of tests conducted by the department were received yesterday.

The spokesman for Rangeland said none of this product has entered the food chain and 90 per cent of Rangeland’s beef usage was of Irish origin.

Mr Coveney said his department was in continuing contact with the Polish authorities as the investigation had shown that all implicated raw material ingredient was labelled as Polish product.

He told RTÉ’s Prime Time last night that Northern Ireland’s food standards authority had confiscated material that was being supplied to Silvercrest by the same meat trader who had supplied the Polish product to Rangeland Foods. When it was tested, it contained horse DNA.

He said he understood that the Polish product had only been supplied to Silvercrest Foods and Rangeland Foods in the Republic.

The Polish authorities said preliminary tests had found no equine material in five of the six facilities flagged by the Irish authorities. Jaroslaw Naze, deputy chief of Poland’s veterinary inspectorate, said Polish companies supplying the Irish meat processing industry were “ready to send their meat samples to be examined in Ireland”.

Farm organisations have reacted angrily to the news that a second meat processor has been drawn into the horse meat controversy. IFA president John Bryan said this was further evidence that only Irish raw material must be used in the manufacture of Irish beef burgers.