Greencore returns negative results for horse DNA at Bristol plant

Patrick Coveney, chief executive officer of Greencore
Patrick Coveney, chief executive officer of Greencore

Greencore has highlighted the fact that it only uses approved suppliers and says its latest results have all returned a negative result for horse DNA



18 February 2013

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Following the news last week that a beef bolognese sauce Greencore made for Asda contained 4.8% horse DNA, the company said today that tests on a range of meat and non meat products at its Bristol facility, where the Asda sauce was made, have all returned a negative result.

Nevertheless, as a precautionary measure, Greencore said it completed a full deep clean shutdown of its Bristol facility over the weekend before restarting full production today.

More broadly, the Irish food group is implementing additional species screening procedures in its supply chain for beef related ingredients going into all Greencore facilities.  Greencore has also said it will take whatever actions are necessary to protect its supply chain going forward.

On Friday (15 February), the company’s stock was reported to have fallen by up to 22%, the most it has dropped in 14 years, reducing its value by as much as £89 million. However later in the day, the stock pulled back some of its losses on the London market, and was trading just under 10% lower on Friday afternoon.

Greencore said the beef used was supplied to it by ABP Food Group’s Nenagh plant in Co Tipperary. ABP also owns Silvercrest Foods in Co Monaghan which made beef burgers for Tesco which were found to contain 29.1% horse DNA.

Greencore has said the revenue of the beef bolognese sauce represented circa £0.3 million of Group £1,157 million turnover in its last financial year. Products containing beef related ingredients also account for less than 10% of group revenue

The food group confirmed on Saturday (16 February) that it had been informed by Asda that the results of the quantitative tests on Asda’s Chosen By You 350g Beef Bolognese Sauce, manufactured at Greencore’s Bristol facility, had shown above trace levels (4.8%) of equine DNA.

All other Greencore and customer test results on Greencore products have been negative, and none of its other 21 convenience foods sites have been affected.

Since the issue has arisen, Greencore said its customers have remained supportive of the group. Specifically, Greencore confirmed that it has received assurance from Asda that it remains supportive of Greencore and the steps it is taking with regards to this matter. 

Greencore is adamant that it only sources products from customer and Greencore jointly approved suppliers, which are regularly audited, and insists that they in turn use approved suppliers. In conjunction with independent experts, its customers and key suppliers, the company added it has launched a thorough and comprehensive investigation to fully determine how this incident could have occurred.

In a statement posted on its ‘Your Asda’ consumer website, the retailer stated: "We want you to have complete confidence in the food you buy at Asda so we are taking a belt and braces approach, moving swiftly to remove products from sale as a precaution even when there is no direct evidence that one of our own products is affected. We’re also committed to giving you all the facts as soon as possible.

As well as withdrawing the Beef Bolognese sauce, Asda said it withdrew three other products from Greencore as a precaution – 600g Beef Broth Soup, 500g Meat Feast Pasta Sauce and 400g Chilli Con Carne Soup. However no horse DNA has been found in any of these three products.

By Saturday 16 February, Asda had already carried out 197 tests on Asda brand beef products. The Bolognese Sauce is the only one of those 197 Asda products that has tested positive for the presence of horse DNA above the threshold set out by the Food Standards Agency (FSA).

Apologising to its customers, Asda said: "As you’d expect, we already have robust checks in place to ensure the highest quality and safety of the food we sell. But we’re going even further by introducing comprehensive DNA testing on Asda brand meat products.

"This testing is being conducted by independent, externally accredited laboratories and is ongoing. We’re also increasing the number of independent unannounced audits we conduct across our entire meat supply chain.

"We will continue to do the right thing and take appropriate action where necessary to make sure you can be confident in the food you and your family are eating."




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