Polish ingredient confirmed as source of horse DNA

Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine, Simon Coveney has confirmed that raw material from Poland is the source of horse DNA content in certain beef burgers.
Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine, Simon Coveney has confirmed that raw material from Poland is the source of horse DNA content in certain beef burgers.

Meat industry representatives believe the findings of the government's official investigation 'will restore certainty to the industry and its export markets'



28 January 2013

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The government’s official investigation into the source of horse DNA in beef burgers shows a Polish ingredient used at the Silvercrest plant revealed up to 20% horse DNA content relative to beef.

Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine, Simon Coveney, said this confirms previous results that the raw material from Poland is the source of equine DNA content in certain beef burgers.

The ABP Food Group, which includes the Silvercrest facility, said Minister Coveney’s statement confirms its "initial view that this contamination originates from third party continental supply."

Changes at Silvercrest

In a statement to the press, ABP said that following its "extensive internal investigations during the last two weeks" it has made a number of key decisions.

These include appointing a new management team at the Silvercrest facility, and undertaking a group reorganisation.

With immediate effect from Saturday, responsibility for the Silvercrest business transfered to ABP Ireland (the Irish chilled beef division). The sister business in the UK, Dalepak Foods, came under the immediate control of ABP UK (the UK chilled beef business).

The group added that it will be independently auditing all its third party suppliers and has already started to implement a new DNA testing regime "over and above any legal requirements". This is in addition to ABP’s "current comprehensive testing regime" to comply with food safety requirements.

The company added that the source of the contaminated meat from Poland is not related to its plant in Poznan. In common with all other parts of the group, this plant does not process any horse meat.

Paul Finnerty, group chief executive, ABP Food Group 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."

Maintaining the integrity of Ireland’s food reputation

Minister Coveney said his priority was always to "uphold the integrity of food produced in Ireland and [ensure] our reputation and good standing internationally for our food exports would be maintained."

"Very significant resources were deployed around the clock by [the] Department and FSAI to find the source of this food incident so that consumers can be fully reassured," he said.

"Over 140 samples of primary products and ingredients have been tested for equine DNA. Three burgers and one imported ingredient tested positive for significant levels of equine DNA."

The Minister added that the official investigation didn’t find any evidence that Silvercrest had "deliberately used horsemeat in their production process".

He said he had been assured by ABP management that it will fully comply with conditions he will apply to continued production standards at Silvercrest.

"The company will commence a deep cleansing of the plant under new management and will submit to a six month period of direct scrutiny by Department inspectors, after which it will be reviewed," the Department’s press statement said.

"As part of this supervision, the Department will carry out weekly sampling of production in order to provide the necessary reassurance to its customers on the integrity of the production chain. A key component of this is the company’s commitment to source all its raw material from Ireland and the UK."

Director of Meat Industry Ireland, Cormac Healy, also praised the Department’s "very comprehensive investigation, involving both laboratory DNA tests and detailed traceability audits"

"The industry hopes that this will bring an end to the current incident," said Healy. "The finding will restore certainty to the industry and its export markets, worth €1.9 billion in 2012."



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