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Wednesday 24 September 2014

Firm at centre of storm admits to financial woes but claims innocence

Cormac McQuinn, Aideen Sheehan and Breda Heffernan

Published 06/02/2013 | 04:00

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THE meat supplier at the centre of the latest twist in the horse meat scandal is beset by financial difficulties, but insists he is an "innocent victim" who bought meat labelled as beef from a Polish supplier "in good faith".

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Martin McAdam, of Co Monaghan-based McAdam Food Products Ltd, has admitted that he has suffered a "large six-figure sum loss" in recent years.

However, he said there was no connection between his financial problems and his sourcing of meat from a Polish supplier.

He said he had "absolutely not" imported the meat because it was a cheaper option.

Mr McAdam's business is one of three supply lines for meat containing horse DNA being investigated – the others being a meat supplier in the UK and a consignment sourced directly from Poland by the Silvercrest meat plant.

Agriculture Minister Simon Coveney told an Oireachtas committee that investigators seized files and computer discs from Mr McAdam's premises last Friday. He also confirmed that the Garda Bureau of Criminal Investigation is now involved in the probe.

Mr McAdam told the Irish Independent that he was co-operating fully with the Food Safety Authority of Ireland (FSAI) and Department of Agriculture investigation.

He said: "They have got a lot of documentation which I provided to help them in their enquiries and we are an innocent victim in this situation."

Last night, beef baron Larry Goodman's ABP Food Group said that its company Silvercrest bought 170 tonnes of Polish beef products from Mr McAdam's company last year.

Silvercrest was last month found to have supplied Tesco with burgers that contained as much as 29pc horse DNA.

Fraud

Tesco, Aldi and Burger King have since cancelled multi-million euro contracts with the company.

Meanwhile, Newry-based Freeza Meats said it was approached by Mr McAdam's company in August to purchase a meat product but refused.

It said that he requested that they store the consignment "which we did in goodwill" and that it was this product that tested positive for 80pc horse DNA. The company said it did not use any of the meat in its products.

A spokesman for the company said: "In August 2012 we were approached by the meat trader McAdam Foods Services in Co Monaghan to purchase a parcel of raw material, which we declined.

"Martin McAdam subsequently asked us to hold his product in storage, which we did in goodwill in a separated area of the storage facility."

A consignment of Polish meat supplied by Mr McAdam's business to another Monaghan company – Rangeland Foods – tested positive for 75pc equine DNA though the ingredient was not used in any of its burgers.

Commenting on the latest discoveries of equine DNA, FSAI chief executive Alan Reilly said: "There's some kind of fraud going on, we don't know what it is, and this is why we've called in the gardai to look at this."

High Court records list Martin and his wife Joan – also a director in McAdam Food Products Ltd – as the defendants in a legal action initiated by Ulster Bank in 2009.

Another company, Close Invoice Finance Ltd filed papers in a different case against the couple in February 2012.

Asked about the court cases Mr McAdam said: "We had a company go into liquidation in Northern Ireland.

"It has all got to do with a very large six-figure sum loss that we have suffered over the last few years."

A spokesman for McAdam Food Products confirmed that gardai had visited the offices along with Department of Agriculture inspectors. The company is co-operating with the department's investigation.

Irish Independent

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