In this file:
Horsemeat possibly in burgers for a year, says FSA
By Carina Perkins - MeatInfo (UK)
31 January, 2013
Burgers sold to supermarkets in the UK and Ireland could have been contaminated with horsemeat for as long as a year, the head of the Food Standards Agency (FSA) revealed yesterday.
Giving evidence at the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs Committee (EFRA) inquiry into the burger contamination scandal yesterday (30 January), FSA chief executive Catherine Brown said Irish plant Silvercrest had been using the Polish supplier named as the source of the contaminated meat for 12 months.
“The probable limit of possibility... is a year because it has been a year that this supplier has been supplying,” she said. “When the Polish get to the bottom of this, we will hope to know whether it’s likely that this has been going on for a year.”
Brown told the Committee that the FSA had not been routinely testing for horsemeat because it “had no intelligence” that such contamination may exist. She said there was “no evidence” so far that the contaminated meat was not safe for human consumption.
Meanwhile, the FSA chairman criticised the Food Safety Authority Ireland (FSAI), which discovered the contamination back in November, for failing to inform UK authorities sooner, adding that the FSA wasn’t aware of the problem until the FSAI released the results of its DNA testing earlier this month.
Speaking on behalf of Tesco, group technical director Tim Smith said that the Irish agriculture minister and FSAI officials had suggested in conversations that they believed the contamination began in May 2012. He added that Tesco auditors had visited the Silvercrest site three times, and that the most recent visit was in May.
Labour MP Barry Gardiner asked Smith why Tesco, a company “notorious for sending back misshapen apples or pears to farmers” had failed to pick up that its beef burgers contained 29% horsemeat. “Surely there is a failure here that is of absolutely extraordinary proportions isn’t there?”
Smith replied that the supermarket carried out audits and checks that went "all the way back up the supply chain", but had not checked the Polish supplier because it was not one of the seven suppliers that Tesco had approved for production of its products. “The fact is that Silvercrest, for whatever reason, chose to use suppliers that we had not approved and audited,” he said.
He added that it was impossible for Tesco to “check a supplier in Poland that we don’t know even exists”...
Horsemeat burger scandal gives fresh impetus to Meat Crusade
By Nicholas Robinson - MeatInfo (UK)
31 January, 2013
In the fall-out of the horsemeat burger scandal, meat wholesaler John Penny & Sons has claimed consumers are returning to the high street butcher for their meat.
According to the wholesaler, the recent discovery has “motivated consumers across the country” to think more seriously about what goes into their food. John Penny explained that since it was revealed some mass-produced beef burgers in the UK were found to contain up to 29% horsemeat, consumer confidence had been “undermined”.
The scandal has also given the wholesaler’s ‘Meat Crusade’ campaign, which aims to get quality butcher’s meat back on dinner tables, extra prominence.
Brindon Addy, chairman of the Q Guild and owner of Addy’s Butcher’s in Hade Edge, said: “With a reputable high street butcher, it’s all about trust. People have a right to know exactly what is in the food they are eating and we can guarantee our meat is traceable to the exact farm it came from, at good value, ensuring the farmer and the customer get a fair price.”
“Whenever there is a food scare, such as the one we are experiencing now, more people come to us to purchase their meat because they trust us. Ho wever, three months later when the media reporting has subsided, many people forget these issues and return to convenience shopping at the supermarket.”
Addy also claimed supermarkets cannot compete on the quality and service offered by an independent butcher’s. He said he believed years of supermarkets “constantly” trying to force down prices had meant their suppliers have had to “cut corners in quality”.
Together with high street butchers and its growing band of loyal supporters, The Meat Crusade hopes to encourage shoppers to continue buying traceable meat from credible butchers who deal with ethical and principled farmers and meat wholesalers...
Report: No proof yet horse meat came from Poland
via WSAV - Jan 31, 2013
WARSAW, Poland (AP) - A top Polish meat safety official says his country is DNA-testing meat samples at seven facilities to see if any are the source of horse meat discovered this month in Irish-produced burgers.
Jaroslaw Naze, the deputy head of Poland's General Veterinary Inspectorate, said Thursday he's seen no evidence yet to link Poland to the horsemeat detected in burgers produced by Ireland's Silvercrest processing plant. He said results of the tests on samples from five slaughterhouses, a meat processing plant and a cold storage unit are expected early next week.
Irish food and agriculture officials say horse meat found in burgers produced for British and Irish consumers came from a Polish supplier...
Horsemeat row: Trade union's fears over Silvercrest jobs
BBC News Northern Ireland
31 January 2013
A leading trade union has said fears are growing for at least 112 jobs at the Silvercrest meat processing plant in Ballybay, County Monaghan.
Three major supermarkets have cancelled contracts for frozen beef burgers with Silvercrest.
It follows the discovery of horse DNA in burgers imported as a raw material from Poland by the firm.
Unite is seeking talks with the owners of the plant, the ABP Food Group.
Aldi Ireland is the latest major supermarket to withdraw a frozen burger contract with Silvercrest.
On Wednesday, The Co-operative Group joined Tesco in "delisting" Silvercrest as a supplier.
In a statement, Aldi Stores (Ireland) said it took the quality of "all its products extremely seriously and demands the highest standards from its suppliers".
"Aldi confirms that it has regrettably had to end its contract with Silvercrest," it said.
"It was necessary for Aldi to take this decision due to a serious breach of contract by Silvercrest in relation to the agreed product specification for Aldi's Bord Bia Approved Oakhurst 100% Irish Beef Burger 8 pack.
"An internal Aldi investigation into the matter is ongoing.
"The product has been withdrawn from sale at all Aldi stores. No other products were supplied to Aldi by Silvercrest."
On Thursday, ALDI UK also said it had suspended its contract with Dalepak, which is also owned by ABP, to supply beefburgers and was conducting further investigations at its factory in Yorkshire.
The UK Food Standards Agency (FSA) said on Wednesday that food standards authorities in the Irish Republic are certain that horsemeat found in beefburgers came from Poland.
FSA boss Catherine Brown told the Commons environment committee that a mixture of "beef and horse offcuts" were contained in a frozen block of filler product imported from Poland.
The meat was processed at the Silvercrest plant in County Monaghan.
Investigations have begun in Poland to find out how beef and horse products were mixed...