Monday 25 September 2017

Minister unable to guarantee unsafe horse meat didn’t enter food chain

Agriculture Minister Simon Coveney
Agriculture Minister Simon Coveney

Michael Brennan Deputy Political Editor

Agriculture Minister Simon Coveney has been unable to guarantee that unsafe horse meat has not been supplied to consumers in beef products.

It followed the revelation that Ossory Meats in Co Offaly has had its operations suspended after investigators found irregular paperwork for 25 horses being brought to slaughter last Friday, including older horses being passed off as yearlings.

Mr Coveney said his department was currently testing the carcass of every horse slaughtered to ensure that the meat was safe for human consumption. But he admitted that there was no guarantee that unsafe horse meat was not being given to consumers in beef products.

Until now horse carcasses have only been tested on a random basis.

Now every single horse carcass is tested for the drug bute – which is used on horses but poses a risk to humans.

They are only released into the food chain if they pass this test.

"It is possible that some of the horse meat that gets legitimately exported and is then relabelled as beef product. That shouldn't be happening but it is very possible that it did happen," he told RTE's Morning Ireland.

The Department of Agriculture has published an interim report into the horse meat scandal, which has been highly critical of the actions of several Irish food companies.

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