Wednesday 16 April 2014

Horse meat scandal hits ready-meal food industry

Workers handle meat at an abbatoir checked by Romanian authorities.
Workers handle meat at an abbatoir checked by Romanian authorities.

Investigations by the Food Safety Authority of Ireland detected horse DNA in products supposedly made of beef, from beef burger to lasagne.

Silvercrest Foods in Co Monaghan -- part of Larry Goodman's ABP group -- was the initial epicentre of the probe. It made burgers for retailers including Tesco, Aldi and the Co-op. Millions of frozen burgers were removed from supermarket shelves in Ireland and the UK.

'Filler product', comprised of horse meat and beef, is believed to have been unwittingly sourced from Poland and used in the manufacture of the burgers.

The scandal spread. Some products being sold by Cavan-based Liffey Meats were also found to contain traces of horse meat, while some Findus lasagne made by French food processing company Comigel was found to contain 100pc horse meat. In April, ABP sold its Silvercrest plant to Irish firm Kepak.

The debacle had an impact on a number of firms around Europe. Food group Greencore said that the scandal had wiped out 10pc of its ready-meal sales in the UK, even though its products hadn't been tainted. "It was a relief to conclude that our supply chain was not contaminated by horse meat," said Greencore CEO Patrick Coveney in November.

"However, the impact on industry trust on consumer confidence and ultimately on ready-meal volumes was severe."

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