Irish tests find no trace of horse meat in beef products

Highest number of cases detected in France and Greece

Minister for Agriculture Simon Coveney: welcomed the news

Minister for Agriculture Simon Coveney: welcomed the news


Ireland was one of only five countries where no beef products tested positive for horse DNA in an EU-wide programme of tests requested by the European Commission in the wake of the horse meat scandal.

Belgium, Malta, Slovakia and the UK were the other member states to detect no horse DNA in their testing programmes. The news was welcomed by Minister for Agriculture Simon Coveney, who said the Irish authorities would continue to show leadership on this issue. While no trace of horse meat was detected in 50 samples of Irish beef products, one of 840 Irish horse meat samples tested positive for bute, a painkilling anti-inflammatory that can be harmful to humans in high doses.

The European Commission noted that Ireland and the UK had gone beyond commission requirements and tested all horse carcasses leaving the slaughterhouse for bute during the testing period, instead of just one sample per 50 tonnes. Mr Coveney said the carcass in question had been destroyed and the case was under investigation.

France found more cases of horse meat in beef products than any other member state. Of the 353 tests carried out in France, 47 tested positive for horse DNA, or more than one in eight samples. Greece had the second highest level of positive results with 288 tests giving 36 positive results.

In February the European Commission asked member states to test beef products for horse meat and to test horse meat for the presence of bute. Some 7,259 tests were carried out across 27 EU member states – 4,144 for horse DNA and 3,115 for bute. Of these, 193, or 4.66 per cent revealed positive traces of horse meat and 16 (0.51 per cent) showed traces of bute.

Own tests
As well as the EU testing regime, the food industries in member states carried out their own tests. Of the 7,951 tests for the presence of horse meat, 110, or almost 1.4 per cent, tested positive. Irish food businesses took 1,228 samples and three tested positive for horse DNA. These were notified to the Food Safety Authority of Ireland.

The European Commission and food safety experts from member states will meet on Friday to consider if the EU co-ordinated monitoring plan should be extended and if further actions should be taken to bolster confidence.

Irish Cattle and Sheep Farmers’ Association president Gabriel Gilmartin said EU-wide DNA testing of meat should be a permanent feature of the meat processing industry.