ABP Food Group has stressed that the horse meat identified in beef burgers, which has been found to come from Poland, did not come from its plant in the country as the site is not involved in processing the product.
ABP said the source of the contaminated meat from Poland is not related to their plant in Poznan as the site does not process any horse meat and confirms the initial view that the contamination came from a third party supplier.
The firm said it would not comment further at this stage when approached for more details.
Simon Coveney, the Irish Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine, said tests have identified the Polish ingredient concerned showed up to 20% horse DNA content relative to beef.
He added that it confirms that the raw material from Poland is the source of equine DNA content in meat imported as raw material for the production of burgers at Silvercrest and Liffey Meats in Ireland and Dalepak Hambleton in North Yorkshire.
More than 140 samples of primary products and ingredients were tested for equine DNA with three burgers and one imported ingredient testing positive with significant levels.
New origin confirmed
Originally, the Food Safety Authority of Ireland (FSAI) said equine DNA had been found in raw ingredients from Spain and the Netherlands.
“While earlier results had shown trace levels of equine DNA in imported raw materials, the latest results showed significant levels of equine DNA, (4.1%) in raw material which was used in the manufacture of burgers which the department found yesterday to contain significant amounts of Equine DNA.”
Ten million beef burgers were withdrawn from UK and Irish supermarkets and one Tesco burger was found to contain 29% horse.
The joint investigation by the FSAI and the Agriculture, Food and the Marine department reaffirmed samples taken from Irish food ingredients were negative equine DNA.
Third party source
The ABP Food Group welcomed the statement from Minister Coveney as it confirmed the initial view that contamination originated from third party continental supply.
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.”
The group has already appointed a new management team at the Silvercrest Facility and started to implement new DNA testing regimes above legal requirements and will be independently auditing all its third party suppliers.
FSA: ongoing investigation
The UK Food Standards Agency (FSA) said last week that seven samples taken from the Dalepak plant, which was one of the sites having supplied beef burgers containing traces of horse and pork DNA, returned negative results.
In a seperate development, the FSA also admitted that eight horses tested positive for bute last year and five were exported to France for food but none of the meat was for the UK.
Horses that have been treated with phenylbutazone or “bute” are not allowed to enter the food chain as the drug is banned from human consumption in the EU.
The agency added that the FSAI checked for the presence of bute in the recent testing for horse meat in burgers and the samples came back negative.