Horse meat found in burgers came from Poland, tests show

THE source of horse meat in beefburgers has been traced to ingredients imported from Poland, according to the Irish authorities.

Simon Coveney, Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine in the Irish Government, described the finding as a “major breakthrough” in the investigation into how horse meat found its way into beefburgers sold by major retailers.

He said in a statement that tests showed “raw material from Poland is the source of equine 
DNA content in certain beef burgers.”

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Tests conducted for the Irish Government showed “up to 20 per cent horse DNA content relative to beef” in the Polish meat while the same tests on ingredients from Irish suppliers proved negative.

Earlier this month, the Food Safety Authority of Ireland revealed beefburgers produced by the Liffey Meats and Silvercrest Foods processing plants in Ireland and Dalepak Hambleton in North Yorkshire had tested positive for horse DNA.

The UK’s Food Standards Agency also revealed the details of tests of samples at the Dalepak site over the weekend.

Seven samples were taken from the burger product lines implicated by the Irish Investigation but none were found to contain horse.

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The FSA said its investigations into the origin of the horse and pork DNA detected in some Dalepak products produced in 2012 were continuing.

In Ireland, Mr Coveney said the investigation into Silvercrest had shown no evidence that the company had deliberately used horsemeat in its products.

Parent company ABP had promised to carry out a “deep cleansing” of the Silvercrest plant and agreed to six months of “direct scrutiny” by inspectors from his department, he said.

Weekly samples will be taken from the production lines with the company also promising to source all its raw ingredients from the UK and Ireland.

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In the wake of the scandal ABP has installed a new management team at Silvercrest and carried out a wider restructuring. ABP chief executive Paul Finnerty said: “This has been a very difficult experience for all involved and has led to a significant interruption in business for Silvercrest and its customers. We are relieved that the source of the problem has been identified.

“While the company has never knowingly purchased or traded 
in equine product, I wish to take this opportunity to apologise for the impact this issue has caused.”

The announcement earlier this month of the results of the Irish authorities’ investigation into the content of beefburgers on sale in the both Ireland and the UK triggered a rapid response from retailers fearing a backlash from consumers.

Tesco, Lidl, Iceland and Aldi were named as the stores where the products testing positive for horse DNA were on sale all removed items from sale.

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However, other chains supplied by ABP including Sainsbury’s, Aldi and Co-Op also took millions of burgers off their shelves.

On Friday, Waitrose became the latest to take action, removing lines supplied by Dalepak.

The affair has also hit fast 
food chain Burger King which 
admitted ditching burgers produced by Silvercrest as a “precaution” and replacing them with products from an alternative supplier.

Speaking in the Commons, Shadow Environment Secretary and Wakefield MP Mary Creagh last week raised the possibility that horses slaughtered in UK abattoirs had tested positive for a veterinary drug that can cause cancer in 

In response, the Government insisted that the Food Standards Agency carries out testing for veterinary drugs.