‘Breach of trust’ as traces source of horse meat burgers

MEAT in Tesco burgers which was found to contain horse DNA did not come from a list of approved suppliers, the supermarket said today.

Findus recalled the beef lasagne meals earlier this week after French supplier Comigel raised concerns that the products didn't "conform to specification."

The meat also came from outside the UK or Ireland, which was contrary to company policy.

The supermarket has dropped its frozen burger supplier, Silvercrest, following what it termed a “breach of trust”.

Sign up to our daily newsletter

The i newsletter cut through the noise

It has vowed to introduce a DNA testing system on meat products to “ensure the quality” of the food on its shelves in the wake of the scandal.

Tesco dropped Silvercrest as its frozen burger supplier following what it termed a "breach of trust".

It said: “We now understand - with as much certainty as possible - what happened.

“The evidence tells us that our frozen burger supplier, Silvercrest, used meat in our products that did not come from the list of approved suppliers we gave them.

“Nor was the meat from the UK or Ireland, despite our instruction that only beef from the UK and Ireland should be used in our frozen beefburgers.

“Consequently we have decided not to take products from that supplier in future. We took that decision with regret but the breach of trust is simply too great.”

Tesco was forced to issue a public apology earlier this month after tests in Ireland discovered traces of horse meat in three frozen beefburger lines.

The findings sparked a national outcry and 10 million burgers were taken off shelves as a result of the scandal.

The supermarket launched an investigation into how the meat ended up in stores in the UK and Ireland on January 16.

Today it promised to set a “new standard” with the introduction of a testing system designed to detect “any deviation from our high standards”.

It issued a statement saying: “We made a commitment to customers to investigate thoroughly and share the findings with them. Since then, we have been working hard to understand what happened and how we can stop it ever happening again.”

It added: “Ultimately Tesco is responsible for the food we sell, so it is not enough just to stop using the supplier.

“We have a well-equipped, expert technical team and world-class checks in place but we will not take anything for granted after this incident.

“It has shown that, in spite of our stringent tests, checks and controls there remained a small possibility that something could go wrong and it did. We want to stop it ever happening again, so we are taking action to reduce that possibility still further.

“To underpin the strong measures already in place, we will now introduce a comprehensive system of DNA testing across our meat products. This will identify any deviation from our high standards.

“These checks will set a new standard.

“It will be a significant investment for Tesco, borne by Tesco. We want to leave customers in no doubt that we will do whatever it takes to ensure the quality of their food and that the food they buy is exactly what the label says it is.”

The controversy surrounding Tesco extended to Dunnes Stores, Lidl, Aldi and Iceland after some of their products were also found to contain low levels of horse DNA.

The furore deepened further last week when it emerged a potentially carcinogenic drug may have entered the food chain following the slaughter of horses in the UK.

Shadow environment secretary Mary Creagh told the Commons that some of these animals tested positive for the carcinogen phenylbutazone, commonly known as bute.

She said: “I am in receipt of evidence showing that several horses slaughtered in UK abattoirs last year tested positive for phenylbutazone, or bute, a drug which causes cancer in humans and is banned from the human food chain.

“It is possible that those animals entered the human food chain.”

The Commons Environment Committee is due to take evidence on the contamination of beef products with horse meat later today.

Food which tested positive was found to have been produced by Liffey Meats and Silvercrest Foods in Ireland and the UK plant, Dalepak Hambleton.