New future for scandal-hit factory
The new owners of the factory at the centre of the horse meat contamination scandal in Ireland have won a contract for Burger King.
The Kepak Group will supply the fast food giant's restaurants across Ireland and the UK with 100% Irish and British beef.
Burger King Worldwide (BKW) said the facility would undergo frequent and rigorous audits to ensure industry leading safety and quality, with the Irish Government committed to ongoing inspection and testing. This will support both Kepak's and BKW's own independent inspection regime, it added.
Burger King's Raj Varman said the brand was proud to bring back 100% Irish and British beef to its restaurants.
"Our partnership with Kepak means that our guests can continue to have every confidence in the provenance and high quality of the locally sourced and great tasting burgers they enjoy at our restaurants," the senior vice-president and general manager for Burger King, North West Europe, added.
The former Silvercrest facility belonged to the ABP Food group, which was owned by beef magnate Larry Goodman, until it was sold to Kepak last month. The deal was approved by Ireland's Competition Authority on Tuesday. Some 122 employees at the facility in Ballybay, Co Monaghan, near the Irish border, who have been on full pay for the last three months after production was suspended, have transferred to the new owners.
ABP has always maintained there was never any evidence of horse meat contamination with its Burger King products when the scandal unfolded as they were manufactured on an independent line and stored separately at the site.
Simon Coveney, Ireland's agriculture minister, said the new deal was confirmation of the important role Irish beef played when it came to global brands like Burger King. "This is a very positive news story for the industry today and an endorsement of the high quality product that we are best in the world at producing," he said.
John Horgan, managing director of the Kepak Group, stressed the firm had a well-established and proven track record in primary beef processing and in beef burger manufacture, innovation and marketing.
"We have an unwavering commitment to process innovation and continuous improvement at all Kepak sites that will supply raw material to our planned new Kepak Ballybay site," he added. "This will ensure 'best-in-class' product quality and traceability throughout the entire supply chain."