FOOD giant Birds Eye has blamed Irish company QK Meats as the source of horsemeat found in some of its ready meals.
Birds Eye said that DNA tests carried out on its lasagne and spaghetti bolognese had revealed the presence of horsemeat, showing its precautionary decision to remove them from sale on February 22 was the right one.
The company said these products had been supplied to it by Dutch company Frigilunch NV who had in turn sourced the meat used from Irish meat processor QK Meats.
QK Meats is part of the Queally family group of food businesses.
QK Coldstores was previously caught up in the horsemeat scandal after it found horsemeat in meat trimmings at its Naas plant, though it said these had not entered the food chain.
Birds Eye said that it had tested 250 products across Europe and three had tested positive for horse DNA.
"Our investigation has shown that Frigilunch NV (who supplied these products to us) was itself supplied meat with horse in it by an Irish meat processor QK Meats.
"Frigilunch NV’s own independent tests and investigation have confirmed our findings. We have reported these findings to the FSAI and Frigilunch NV has taken immediate action and suspended them as a supplier of meat."
"All other meat suppliers to Frigilunch N.V. have been given the all clear through both Birds Eye’s and Frigilunch NV’s separate testing programmes."
"You can rest assured that all other suppliers to Birds Eye have also been given the all clear."
QK Meats said in a statement it was investigating its supply chain and had never knowingly incorporated horsemeat into any beef products.
"The quality and safety of our products is of the utmost importance to QK Meats. The company has been operating for the past 25 years and has an exemplary record in terms of food quality and safety standards.
"QK Meats has never knowingly incorporated horsemeat into any of its beef products."
"Following the discovery of equine DNA in product allegedly supplied by QK Meats to Frigilunch NVA, a supplier to Birds Eye, QK Meats has launched a full investigation into its supply chain," it said.
"QK Meats is a fully accredited EU licensed facility."
Birds Eye said it had now introduced a "triple-lock" DNA testing programme to ensure no mince-meat product could reach supermarket shelves without clearing three stages of DNA testing.