Waitrose removes burgers ‘as precaution’

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Upmarket supermarket Waitrose has pulled beefburgers from its shelves in the horsemeat scare.

The company said it had taken frozen burgers made by Dalepak off sale “as a precaution” when it had its accreditation suspended.

Ten million burgers have been taken off supermarket shelves across Ireland and the UK after it was revealed some lines sold by Tesco, Aldi, Lidl and Iceland were discovered to have contained traces of horsemeat.

In a statement, Waitrose said its burgers had since been tested and were found to be 100 per cent beef. It added: “Our technical team visited Dalepak last week and were happy that our products were produced separately from other companies’ products.”

ABP Food Group, one of Europe’s biggest suppliers and processors, stopped work at its Silvercrest Foods plant in Co Monaghan, Ireland, after tests last week revealed contamination.

Tests had already shown that Silvercrest Foods and another subsidiary, Dalepak Hambleton in Yorkshire, supplied beefburgers with traces of equine DNA to supermarkets, including one product classed as 29 per cent horse.

Labour has claimed a potentially carcinogenic drug might have entered the food chain through horse meat slaughtered in the UK.

Shadow environment secretary Mary Creagh told the Commons she had evidence that “several” horses slaughtered in the UK last year tested positive for the carcinogen phenylbutazone.

The Food Standards Agency (FSA) said it carried out checks in slaughterhouses and no animals containing the drug had entered the food chain.

It said: “In 2012 the FSA identified five cases where horses returned non-compliant results. None of the meat had been placed for sale on the UK market.”

The FSA added: “During the recent horsemeat incident, the Food Safety Authority of Ireland checked for the presence of phenylbutazone and the samples came back negative.”

The FSA said tests at a North Yorkshire Dalepak plant had found no traces of meat contaminated with horse or pork DNA.