“In Ireland, it is not in our culture to eat horsemeat and therefore, we do not expect to find it in a burger…”

So, what did you have for dinner…  The BBC reports the headline findings of the snapshot survey by the Food Safety Authority of Ireland of some beef-based products on sale in Ireland.  From the BBC report

Horse DNA has been found in some beef burgers being sold in UK and Irish supermarkets, the Republic of Ireland’s food safety authority (FSAI) has said.

The FSAI said the meat came from two processing plants in Ireland, Liffey Meats and Silvercrest Foods, and the Dalepak Hambleton plant in Yorkshire.

It said they posed no health risk.

The burgers were on sale in Tesco and Iceland in the UK and Ireland. In the Republic of Ireland they were on sale in Dunnes Stores, Lidl, and Aldi.

Retailers have said they are now removing all implicated batches of the burgers.

From the FSAI press release

A total of 27 beef burger products were analysed with 10 of the 27 products (37%) testing positive for horse DNA and 23 (85%) testing positive for pig DNA.  In addition, 31 beef meal products (cottage pie, beef curry pie, lasagne, etc) were analysed of which 21 were positive for pig DNA and all were negative for horse DNA.  All 19 salami products analysed tested negative for horse DNA.  Traces of horse DNA were also detected in batches of raw ingredients, including some imported from The Netherlands and Spain.

The beef burger products which tested positive for horse DNA were produced by two processing plants (Liffey Meats and Silvercrest Foods) in Ireland and one plant (Dalepak Hambleton) in the UK.  They were on sale in Tesco, Dunnes Stores, Lidl, Aldi and Iceland.  In nine of the ten beef burger samples from these retailers, horse DNA was found at very low levels.  However, in one sample from Tesco, the level of horse DNA indicated that horsemeat accounted for approximately 29% relative to the beef content. The FSAI is working with the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine, and the processing plants and retailers involved.  The retailers have stated that they are removing all implicated batches from sale today.  In addition, Silvercrest Foods has informed the FSAI that it is withdrawing all products from sale and replacing them with new products. [added emphasis]

According to Prof. Alan Reilly, Chief Executive, FSAI, whilst these findings pose no risk to public health they do raise some concerns.  He states: “The products we have identified as containing horse DNA and/or pig DNA do not pose any food safety risk and consumers should not be worried.  Consumers who have purchased any of the implicated products can return them to their retailer.”

“Whilst, there is a plausible explanation for the presence of pig DNA in these products due to the fact that meat from different animals is processed in the same meat plants, there is no clear explanation at this time for the presence of horse DNA in products emanating from meat plants that do not use horsemeat in their production process.  In Ireland, it is not in our culture to eat horsemeat and therefore, we do not expect to find it in a burger.  Likewise, for some religious groups or people who abstain from eating pig meat, the presence of traces of pig DNA is unacceptable.  We are working with the meat processing plants and the Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and the Marine to find out how horse DNA could have found its way into these products,” concludes Prof. Reilly. [added emphasis]

The results of the ‘beef’ burger products analysed are available here [pdf file].

The Irish Times report includes the response by the Irish Government’s Minister for Food, Simon Coveney

Minister for Food Simon Coveney has said a full investigation into the matter by his department is under way, following from “confirmation of the results of a FSAI snapshot survey to examine the authenticity of the ingredients declared in the labelling of some beef-based products retailing in Ireland”.

His statement noted the FSAI “has made clear that there is no food safety implication” to the finding, although it does raise concerns about the proper labelling and sourcing of food ingredients.

“The Minister confirmed that on receipt of this information from the FSAI, his department immediately commenced an investigation in the particular plant where the higher [unexpected DNA] findings were detected to determine the source of the equine products,” the statement said.

“That investigation is ongoing but is focusing on the individual ingredients used in the manufacture of the affected batch. A number of these individual ingredients were imported into the State. The Minister stated that to date there was no evidence from the investigation being conducted to show that the manufacturer knowingly brought in equine meat for use in the production of these burgers.”

, , , , , , , , , , , , ,