A COMPANY that supplied burgers containing horse meat to Tesco is still investigating whether contaminated products used in the making of the burgers were imported from abroad.
Larry Goodman's ABP Food Group has not ruled out the possibility that imported ingredients from Europe were used to produce burgers found to contain 29.1pc horse meat.
It was responding to reports that ingredients from Europe were not used to produce the Tesco-branded burgers that have caused public outrage.
An ABP spokesman said its investigations centred on the possibility that the suspect ingredients were supplied from the continent.
"The company is investigating all possible sources of horse DNA contamination," said the ABP spokesman.
"At this stage, the investigations remain centred on third-party ingredient suppliers from the continent.
"As previously stated, Silvercrest Foods and the ABP Food Group is co-operating fully with the competent authorities in the investigation."
He said the company never knowingly bought or processed horse meat and was still shocked by a finding of 29pc equine DNA in a burger sampled by the Food Safety Authority.
He said the company responded to the issue with an immediate product withdrawal, launching an internal investigation and suspending production of the burgers.
The Taoiseach has denied that the minister in charge of food safety was given a "bum steer" over the source of the horse meat.
Enda Kenny admitted it was not clear if the contaminated ingredients came from abroad, but defended Mr Coveney and said he was "very much on top of" the controversy.
"It is a matter of reputation for our country," he said. "The process of analysis and examination is ongoing."
He said forensic tests were under way and the minister would publish the final evidence "immediately".
Tesco refused to comment on the origin of the contaminated burgers, but said it was waiting for the outcome of the department's investigation.
The Department of Agriculture said it would have further test results on the quantity of horse meat in the samples it examined early next week. It said one sample of seven it tested was contaminated and came from another member state.
Over 10 million burgers have been taken off supermarket shelves here and in the UK after horse meat was discovered in burgers sold by Tesco, Aldi, Lidl and Iceland.