Food safety officials in Ireland claim they have tracked down the source of horse DNA found in beef burgers produced by ABP subsidiary Silvercrest.
A joint investigation between Ireland’s Department for Agriculture, Food and the Marine and the Food Safety Authority of Ireland (FSAI) revealed that beef supplied to Silvercrest plant by a third-party company in Poland had tested positive for horse DNA, with some samples found to contain as much as 20% horse relative to beef.
Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine, Simon Coveney, said this established a “direct correlation” between the burgers that tested positive for horse DNA at the plant and the Polish supplier. He added that investigations would now be wound down.
ABP, which has always pointed the finger of blame at third-party suppliers, welcomed the news.
Paul Finnerty, group chief executive at ABP, 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 products, I wish to take this opportunity to apologise for the impact this issue has caused.”
Production at the Silvercrest plant, which was suspended by ABP during the investigation, will resume following a “deep cleansing” of the plant. However, the plant will remain under scrutiny by the FSAI, with weekly samples taken to ensure the products are free of contamination.
ABP said it would be appointing new management at the plant, and implementing DNA testing and independent auditing of third-party suppliers across the group.
The FSAI announced earlier this month that burgers supplied by Silvercrest, Dalepak and Liffey Meats to retailers in Ireland and the UK in 2012 had tested positive for horse and pig DNA. Further testing on products from Liffey Meats and Dalepak returned negative results, but testing on Silvercrest products returned more positive results for horse DNA, leading ABP to suspend operations at the plant.
The scandal saw products produced by Silvercrest and Dalepak removed by a number of UK retailers, with Burger King also replacing ABP as its burger supplier for the UK and Ireland.