Beef, Its What's For Dinner, Or Just Maybe A Little Horse Mixed In With It...Read On!

January 15, 2013

Asda, Co-op and Sainsbury's withdraw burger ranges over horse meat fears as it’s revealed tests found equine DNA in other supermarket products LAST NOVEMBER.

Three more supermarkets have started clearing shelves of frozen beefburgers after it emerged they use the same supplier that sold Tesco products containing up to 29 per cent horse meat.Asda, the Co-op and Sainsbury's were not among the four retailers found to be selling contaminated food but say they have pulled some of their ranges as a 'precautionary measure'.It came as it was revealed horse-tainted beefburgers could have been on the shelves for almost two months after it was first discovered they contained equine meat.

Government scientists in Ireland, where many were produced, found horse DNA in late November, but took until January 11 to step in as they wanted to have three positive rounds of tests. Most had only small traces but Tesco has cleared its shelves this morning after 29 per cent of the 'beef' content of one of its products was actually horse meat. More than £300million has been wiped from the supermarket giant's share value as suppliers in the Netherlands and Spain are being blamed for the contaminated ingredients.

Tesco says it does not know exactly how many of its burgers were contaminated or how many it has withdrawn from sale.Both Asda and Co-op, despite not being implicated, have taken action to withdraw their frozen burgers from the manufacturer at the centre of the scandal, Silvercrest. Asda has pulled products from the shelves and the Co-op two. A spokesman for Asda said: 'As soon as we were made aware of the issue we launched a full traceability audit with our supplier. This is still underway. In the meantime as a precaution we have withdrawn a number of frozen burger products from sale'.

The Co-op added: 'We can confirm that we take two lines of frozen own-brand beefburgers from Silvercrest Foods. Neither of these products have been implicated in this report. However, we are taking this matter very seriously, and, purely as a precaution, we are removing them from sale while tests are being conducted to ensure they have been produced to our strict specifications.'Sainsbury's has removed 13 own-brand lines from the shelves as a 'precautionary measure'.A spokesman for the supermarket said: 'Although Sainsbury’s products have not been implicated, as our customers would expect we treat matters like this extremely seriously. 'All our burgers are made from 100 per cent British beef but as a precautionary measure we are withdrawing those sourced from Dalepak.'

Fast food giant Burger King, which uses ABP/Silvercrest, says it has been told by the supplier none of its products have been affected by the contamination.
However, it has also launched a 'precautionary' investigation today.
A Burger King Worldwide spokesman said: 'Food safety at Burger King restaurants is a top priority. Burger King Worldwide has a comprehensive food safety programme that uses multiple and overlapping controls to oversee its suppliers.
'Burger King Worldwide is aware of the contaminated beef found in tests conducted by the Food Safety Authority of Ireland. 'BKW has been given absolute assurance by its supplier ABP/Silvercrest that no Burger King products are affected by the issue. 'As a precautionary measure to ensure the safety of our guests, the company has taken swift action to further investigate and ensure that no affected product has entered the Burger King system.'

A spokeswoman for rival burger chain McDonald's said its supply chain has been checked and the fast food outlet is not affected. A Morrisons spokesman said the company's beef is 100 per cent British and that it does not source any meat from the three affected sites. Ireland's Food Safety Authority told MailOnline they tested burgers from several supermarkets in mid-November, and got results back that some contained horse DNA in late November. More burgers bought and tested in December were again found to contain horse, so more samples were then sent to Germany for final verification at around Christmas. These arrived back in Dublin on January 11, when they stepped in, and said the three rounds of tests were needed as this was 'good science'. Processing plant, Silvercrest, based in Ireland, which supplies the burgers to UK supermarkets, including Tesco, and is a subsidiary of ABP Foods, said it was pulling products from sale and replacing them with new lines.

ABP said today they would adopt strict DNA testing of its products to prevent a repeat. The Food Standards Agency in Britain has launched an investigation after a third of burgers from four chains in Britain were contaminated. During Prime Minister’s Questions, David Cameron told MPs: ‘It is an extremely serious issue. People in our country will have been very concerned to read this morning that when they thought they were buying beef burgers they were buying something with horse meat in it. ‘This is a completely unacceptable state of affairs,’ he added.
‘It is worth making the point that ultimately retailers have to be responsible for what it is they sell and where it comes from.

Simon Coveney, Ireland’s Agriculture and Food Minister, says the source of the food alert appeared to be companies in the Netherlands and Spain. 'What seems to have happened here is that the extra ingredient that was added was imported,' he said. 'There is no evidence to suggest that Silvercrest knowingly imported ingredients that had horse meat in it.' Paul Finnerty, chief executive at Silvercrest, said the controversy was extremely disappointing for the company, retailers and consumers. 'We don’t buy any horse meat, and the product in question from the suppliers, that’s being examined at the moment. It will take two or three days to get to the bottom of that.' Silvercrest said it had taken about 10 million burgers out of the marketplace as a result of the alert. It also said the product at the centre of the scare and used as an ingredient in the burger mix was supposed to be a beef product rather than rusk, onion or other non-beef bulking agent. Silvercrest said today: 'Although the products pose no risk to public health, Silvercrest has taken immediate action to isolate, withdraw and replace all suspect product. 'Silvercrest has never purchased or traded in equine product and has launched a full-scale investigation into two continental European third party suppliers who are the suspected source of the product in question.'

The affected burgers were made at two sites in Ireland and one in North Yorkshire owned by Dalepak Foods. They were produced by Liffey Meats alongside Silvercrest and the UK plant, Dalepak Hambleton. Speaking on ITV's Daybreak this morning, Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt, said: ‘There is no health risk from this but we are right to be very concerned, obviously, if any food is sold which is different to what the label says, then that’s a matter of very great concern and I know that the Food Standards Agency are looking into this very, very carefully indeed.’The highest level of horse meat was found in Tesco's Everyday Value beefburgers but traces were also detected in its frozen quarter pounders.

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