Results due on Silvercrest burgers

Thu, Jan 24, 2013, 00:00

The Department of Agriculture expects to receive test results by tomorrow morning which should shed more light on the horse meat content of burgers produced by Silvercrest Foods, the plant at the centre of the controversy over horse meat in burgers.

Last week, a Food Safety Authority of Ireland study found that a burger produced by the ABP-owned facility contained 29 per cent horse DNA, relative to meat content.

New samples were taken last week from burgers that were produced at the plant before that study was published. Preliminary results found horse DNA in one sample of raw ingredients, out of seven samples tested. That sample was sourced from abroad.

Of the 13 finished burgers tested, horse DNA was found in nine samples. The positive samples were sent to Germany to quantify the percentage of horse DNA present and those results are expected by tomorrow morning.

Yesterday, the Burger King fast food chain said it was sourcing other approved suppliers to replace burgers produced by Silvercrest. It did not say if this was a temporary or permanent arrangement. Neither would it say how much the contract was worth, although some reports have suggested it could be close to €30 million.

Minister for Agriculture Simon Coveney said it was not a surprise that Burger King had decided to source elsewhere as Silvercrest Foods was temporarily closed while investigations were continuing.

“It was predictable enough that Burger King would source elsewhere, one, because they can’t get product from Silvercrest, but also because like everybody else I think they want to get to the bottom of how horse meat got into a beef burger," he said.

Before Burger King’s announced it was switching suppliers, the ABP Food Group had been stressing that all Burger King products were manufactured on a separate line and stored separately and there was no evidence of any contamination of raw material.

Mr Coveney said it was encouraging that Burger King intended to look elsewhere in Ireland, as well as Britain, to source the burgers. And he rejected criticism that the Department of Agriculture was taking too long to identify the source of the horse meat. “If you look at the complexity of what we are examining at the moment… you’ll see there are over 40 different suppliers into this processing facility,” he said.

Officials had taken more than130 samples for testing and were waiting on results from Irish and German laboratories. Mr Coveney also encouraged people to wait for the results before drawing conclusions based on hunches and rumours.