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Horse DNA found in burgers sold by supermarkets

The start of the year has been difficult for some of the UK’s supermarkets after the Republic of Ireland Food Safety Authority (FSAI) revealed that they have found both horse and pig DNA in a number of beef products sold by Tesco and Iceland among others. The infringing items including beef burgers, cottage pie and lasagne originated from food processing plants in Ireland operated by Liffey Meats and Silvercrest Foods and Yorkshire, Dalepak Hambleton.
In the meat tested, one sample from a beef burger sold by Tesco contained at least 29% horse meat. This has caused concerns for Ireland’s Minster for Agriculture Simon Coveney although he has said that “There is no food safety risk”.

Tesco, Iceland, Aldi, Lidl & Dunnes have all withdrawn affected products from sale. On Thursday 17th January Tesco took out adverts in major British newspapers apologising for this matter, they also had a similar apology displayed on their website, reading;

“We and our supplier have let you down and we apologise.
“So here’s our promise. We will find out exactly what happened and, when we do, we’ll come back and tell you.
“And we will work harder than ever with all our suppliers to make sure this never happens again.”

Yesterday Burger King announced that small traces of horse DNA had been found in the meat it uses for its burgers. Although tests on burgers being served at Burger King branches returned negative, samples taken from their supplier tested positive.
The fast-food restaurant said the failure of Silvercrest based in Co Monaghan, Ireland, to deliver 100 per cent British and Irish beef in their products was a violation of contracts. They also added that they have now switched to approved suppliers in Germany.
While eating Horse meat is still taboo in British culture it is commonly eaten on mainland Europe, although most people would not expect to find it in a frozen beef burger. The Food Standards Agency (FSA) split burgers into two quality groups Standard and Economy they have to contain a certain amount of meat to be classed. Standard have to contain at least 62% Beef where Economy only 47% beef. Otherwise they can’t be sold as a meat product under European law.

The Food Minster David Heath has spoken out in the commons about properly labelling food items. Government are currently considering criminal prosecutions for those responsible. On 24th January Labour claimed that a carcinogenic drug may have been present in the horse meat. The FSA followed this up by saying “In 2012 the FSA identified five cases where horses returned non-compliant results. None of the meat had been placed for sale on the UK market. Where the meat had been exported to other countries, the relevant food safety authorities were informed.”

Following the amount of media attention on this subject upmarket supermarket Waitrose removed all beef burgers produced by Dalepak from their shelves as a precaution last week. After analysing the meat it was found to contain 100% Beef as it should. Waitrose released the following statement:

“As a consequence we are 100% confident in the integrity of our supply chain. The ingredients in our burgers are simple with all meat traceable back to British farms that we know.Our technical team visited the Dalepak site last week and were happy that our products were produced to our high specification and separately from other companies’ products (ours are produced at 6am before other any other burgers).”


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