independent

Friday 18 April 2014

Greencore is latest to be caught up in horse meat row

British chain removes four products manufactured here

Patrick Coveney: turned Greencore into one of biggest readymeal firms in Britain

SUPERMARKET chain Asda has removed products from its shelves that were manufactured by a major Irish company.

Food giant Greencore is headed up by Agriculture Minister Simon Coveney's brother, Patrick, and was the supplier of beef bolognese sauce to the UK supermarket found to contain horse meat.

Asda immediately withdrew the bolognese sauce and three other Greencore products from its shelves.

Two other major British supermarkets also moved to immediately test products supplied by Greencore as a precautionary measure.

The revelation is something of a setback for the Agriculture Minister, who this week called on the EU Commission to fast-track a report outlining new measures for the labelling of meat products.

He has been fighting controversy on the horse meat issue since the scandal erupted a month ago with the discovery of contaminated burgers.

The latest developments have put Irish companies once more at the centre of attention and are a setback for the Government's attempts to make it a pan-European issue.

The Irish taxpayer is also a shareholder in Greencore. This dates back to a time when Greencore was the State sugar company.

The State holds a so-called "golden share" in the firm, which gives the Government a veto over any sale of the business.

Greencore confirmed that it had supplied the beef bolognese sauce to Asda.

But it said the sauce contained meat that was supplied to Greencore by ABP Food Group's plant in Nenagh, Co Tipperary.

An ABP spokesman said: "In the past few weeks we have carried out hundreds of tests on fresh beef and to date they have all tested negative for equine DNA.

"ABP again reiterates that we have never knowingly purchased or processed equine meat."

ABP Foods is owned by beef baron Larry Goodman, who has been embroiled in the horse meat controversy since the very beginning. Burgers containing horse meat were linked to his Silvercrest plant in Co Monaghan during the first round of tests.

"The company is currently awaiting the results of further quantitative tests that will validate the presence and the extent of the equine DNA," Greencore said last night.

"Greencore is committed to maintaining the highest standards of food safety."

However, Greencore shares fell 3pc yesterday in heavy trading; its products were being removed from the shelves of supermarket Asda and were being tested by Sainsbury's and Co-op.

An Asda spokeswoman said: "As you'd expect, we are withdrawing the beef bolognese sauce from our shelves. We are taking a belt-and-braces approach so in addition and as a precaution we're also withdrawing three other beef-based products produced by the same supplier. We have no positive test results for horse DNA in any of these products, but we feel it is the right thing to withdraw them anyway."

Sainsbury's and the Co-op are also supplied by Greencore.

Sainsbury's said it was carrying out tests for the presence of horse DNA but added that Greencore used a different beef supplier for its products.

"Ours is from a British supplier, Asda's is from southern Ireland," said a spokesman.

"We have already carried out tests on a range of our beef products including burgers, ready meals and minced meat and no trace of horse DNA has been found."

Scandal

The Co-op said Greencore supplies six pasta sauces to the company, but none of these include beef. It will announce the results of testing on its beef products this morning.

Meanwhile, Rangeland Foods in Co Monaghan said it was withdrawing more than 9,000 burgers that were on sale in Ireland and Europe.

It came after UK tests showed some batches of Rangeland burgers tested positive for between 5pc and 30pc horse meat. Rangeland was previously at the centre of the scandal when imported meat at its plant was found to contain 75pc horse meat.

Irish Independent

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