Simon Coveney breaks the news of horse meat found in Newry plant…

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Last night, Simon Coveney was on Prime Time (4 minutes in) with Miriam O’Callaghan. Coveney is Agriculture Minister for the Republic but he is also chair of all the agriculture ministers across Europe just now by dint of Ireland’s Presidency of the European Union.

He’s clearly in a very hot seat just now, and accordingly gave an account of an investigation that has narrowed the problem down to just two producers.

Indeed, it was Coveney (and not the northern Agriculture Minister) who announced that there was a problem now in the Freeza Plant in Newry. In Northern Ireland, most of the public comment has been led so far by Paul Frew, the chair of the assembly’s agriculture committee. The last word from Michelle O’Neill was that “there is no reason to believe there are any issues with processors in Northern Ireland”.

{Text removed} See this note posted by jthree:

PRESS STATEMENT
Freeza Meats is not part of the ABP Food Group
In response to queries, the ABP Food Group wishes to make clear that Freeza Meats, the company named in yesterday’s Food Standards Agency statement, is not part of ABP Newry or any part of the ABP Food Group.
ENDS

As the BBC note, in the Republic the possibility of fraud is being investigated:

Meanwhile, police in the Irish Republic have been asked to investigate after horsemeat was found in beef products at a third factory. Ministers requested police assistance after equine DNA was found at Rangeland Foods, in County Monaghan.

The firm stopped production after tests found 75% horse DNA in an ingredient imported from Poland. The company said the consignment had not gone into production. Mr McCurdy, of the FSA in Northern Ireland, said the possibility of fraud needed to be investigated.

“That is why the Republic of Ireland, the Department of Agriculture, the Food Safety Authority of Ireland, the minister, the Garda are involved. We will be working very closely with those authorities to try and establish the facts of this case and to determine whether or not this is accidental, in terms of someone has packaged and mislabelled, or whether or not there is deliberate fraudulent activity.”

He added: “At this point in time we have no indication of food safety risk, but this is an issue about food safety confidence.”

In Northern Ireland, the Minister has yet to make any kind of statement, either publicly to the press or to the Committee for Agriculture and Rural Development Committee at Stormont. That committee is due to meet this morning.

The question should be asked, why did the southern Minister take it upon himself to announce this issue, when it properly falls to Michelle O’Neill?

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  • BarneyT

    “why did the southern Minister take it upon himself to announce this issue?”

    Have you not answered this question in other posts Mick? The ineffectiveness of the NI executive perhaps?

    There are a host of reasons for Coveney jumping the gun.

    - Upstage SF

    - He assumes All-Ireland responsibility for the matter given it’s a genuine all-ireland impact – agriculture has a unifying effect and the threat of blue-tongue generates ample cross-border cooperation not seen in other areas of live and government

    - His role as pan european agricutural minister gives him remit?

    Also I cannot imagine that SF would object to ROI intervention in the North (even if it is from FG) so perhaps Michelle deferred on this matter?

  • jthree

    Freeza Meats is not ABP. It’s owned by Eamon Mackle.

    To confirm:

    PRESS STATEMENT
    Freeza Meats is not part of the ABP Food Group
    In response to queries, the ABP Food Group wishes to make clear that Freeza Meats, the company named in yesterday’s Food Standards Agency statement, is not part of ABP Newry or any part of the ABP Food Group.
    ENDS

  • Mick Fealty

    Thanks jthree. Removed and the text above inserted.

  • jthree

    Need to tweak your headline

  • Barnshee

    This is terrible news It will taint the entire Island Urgent recovery actions please

  • streetlegal

    The big supermarkets are getting the message that the Irish meat processors – north and south – are not to be trusted.

  • jthree

    Plot thickens:

    STATEMENT FROM FREEZA MEATS

    05.02.2013

    A spokesperson for Freeza Meats, Newry said, “In August 2012 we were approached by the meat trader McAdam Foods Services in Co. Monaghan (Republic of Ireland) to purchase a parcel of raw material, which we declined. Martin McAdam subsequently asked us to hold his product in storage which we did in goodwill in a separated area of the storage facility.

    “This raw material was not purchased by Freeza Meats and never reached the food chain through this company. We have under legal jurisdiction been required to detain the product in quarantine awaiting the direction of the local Environmental Health Office.

    “All tests that have been carried out routinely on our own finished products i.e. (burgers) have been negative. There have been no traces of equine DNA in any samples taken from Freeza Meats products.

    “At all times we have worked in conjunction with the Environmental Health Office who have been fully aware of the background to this McAdam product from the outset. We have also sought the authority of the Environmental Health Officer to remove / dispose of this product from our premises.

  • BarneyT

    “…we were approached by the meat trader McAdam Foods Services in Co. Monaghan (Republic of Ireland) to purchase a parcel of raw …”

    Was wee Willie Frazer on to something :-)

  • http://www.dublinstreams.blogspot.com lostexpectation

    the horsemeat was just resting in my store, says mackle

  • http://www.dublinstreams.blogspot.com lostexpectation

    it was the uk food standards agency that announced it http://www.food.gov.uk/news-updates/news/2013/feb/ni-horse#.UREyWvLegU4

  • BarneyT

    When I first read this blog I thought that meat was found in an actual plant…the vegetarian in me was in a pickle for a split second!!

  • Godfrey Johnson

    Visited my local supermarket today and went to the meat counter.

    “They tell me you do a fine line in equine intestine,” says I.

    For some reason they were not amused.