THE food industry's own tests have found that some "beef" products actually contained more than 60pc horse meat.
The industry carried out 957 tests on both beef ingredients and final beef products. A total of 29 samples – all of them final products – tested positive for horse meat. Some of these were found to have an alarming level of horse meat, at over 60pc.
It comes as inspectors from the Department of Agriculture begin a month-long period of testing under EU orders, however only 50 samples of beef products will be tested for horse meat during that time.
The European Commission has also requested that one sample for every 50 tonnes of horse meat be tested for the presence of veterinary drug phenylbutazone, known as 'bute'.
The Food Safety Authority of Ireland yesterday released results of the food industry's own tests. The 29 positive samples related to seven products which contained horse meat at varying levels, from as low as less than 1pc to over 60pc.
They include: Rangeland burgers (5-30pc horse meat); Findus Beef Lasagne (over 60pc); Birds Eye Beef Lasagne (up to 10pc); Birds Eye Spaghetti Bolognese (up to 5pc); Tesco Everyday Value Spaghetti Bolognese (from less than 1pc to greater than 60pc); Aldi Today's Special Beef Lasagne (30-60pc); and Aldi Today's Special Beef Bolognese (30-60pc).
All the positive results have previously been published and the products concerned have already been withdrawn from sale.
Meanwhile, Greencore has cleared a Tipperary-based division of Allied Beef Processors (ABP) of any wrongdoing after traces of horse meat were found in one of its products.
Greencore withdrew one of its bolognese sauces from the shelves of Asda in the UK last month after tests showed horse DNA had been found in the product.
Greencore said the beef it used had been sourced from ABP's plant in Nenagh. However, ABP strongly defended itself, insisting it "never processed, purchased, traded, stored or handled equine product".
In a new statement, however, Greencore said it had completed its own internal investigation and "multiple further tests for the presence of equine DNA on the same batch of the same product" that had been found to contain horse before "all produced negative results".
The results had "reassured" Asda about using Greencore's products and the "implications for its supplier chain".
There was "no evidence of contamination in the supply chain", Greencore added.
ABP welcomed the results of Greencore's investigation, and said for its part it had tested about 18,000kg of beef that was used to supply Greencore. All tests came up negative, ABP said.