MEAT supplier Martin McAdam has said the demands of large processing firms for cheaper ingredients forced him to source products in Poland.
Mr McAdam, who says he was unaware the products contained horse DNA, has accused management at the Silvercrest and Rangeland Foods plants of telling him to source cheaper meat products, claiming they were saving from €5,000 to €10,000 per truck as a result.
The supplier, who has admitted to being in financial difficulties due to the liquidation of a business in the North, also said Silvercrest owes him "a substantial amount of money" for products he delivered.
Meanwhile, his spokesman confirmed the names of his two Polish suppliers as Mipol and Food Service, while he had also sourced meat of Polish origin from UK company Flexi Foods.
Mr McAdam spoke out on Northern Sound radio when he was asked why he sought Polish companies to supply ingredients for burgers. The Co Monaghan meat broker replied: "I had meetings with the management of Rangeland and Silvercrest. They obviously look for competitively priced cuts.
"I did source them at some stage in Ireland, but due to price pressure I was informed to source cuts elsewhere."
He said he sourced meat in Germany, Holland and Belgium as well as Poland in plants he said he was told exceeded EU standards. Sourcing the meat from Poland meant "there could be savings of anything between €5,000 and €10,000 per truck".
"The savings, that's made by the plant," he said. "That's not my profits – I just want to make that point very clear."
Mr McAdam said he was "shocked and horrified and extremely worried and stressed over the fact they've found this (horse DNA) in the product that I bought in good faith as beef".
He said he had paid the Polish suppliers up front, and added: "Why would I jeopardise €70,000 before I'd even lift a load of beef in Poland? That's a huge amount to risk. If I'd thought they were even putting in a bit of horse meat or anything at all I just would have pulled out straight away."
Mr McAdam said he was "fully cooperating" with the investigation by the Food Safety Authority of Ireland (FSAI), the Department of Agriculture and the gardai, but would like to conduct his own tests on the Polish meat to verify the results showing up to 80pc horse meat.
ABP Food Group, which owns Silvercrest, declined to comment on Mr McAdam's claims that the company told him to source cheaper meat and owed him money.
Rangeland Foods said it began sourcing meat outside Ireland early last year, but this was for supply reasons, and its relevant European customers had been told. "The imported product was not cheaper than the Irish equivalent," a statement said.
Food Service in Poland said the only activities it was involved in were pork slaughter and pork and beef deboning.
"Our production plants do not slaughter, debone, pack, freeze or store any equine meat. Our plants meet all the European standards," it said.
Flexifoods in the UK and Mipol in Poland did not comment on the allegations.
Meanwhile, Rangeland Foods confirmed it will be resuming production at its burger plant in Co Monaghan today. The Department of Agriculture has given it a clean bill of health.