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Sunday 17 December 2017

Controversy now becoming too close for comfort

Well, well, well. Where now lies Agriculture Minister Simon Coveney's attempts to effectively close down the horse burger controversy four weeks ago?

The scandal continues to grow, with a leading Irish company run by the minister's brother dragged into the affair.

Mr Coveney spent the week talking about a European-wide issue, but it's a crisis that continues to be too close to home.

The latest revelation sees Irish-based Greencore drawn into the matter. British supermarket chain Asda has withdrawn its 500g beef bolognese sauce after tests revealed the presence of horse DNA. The supermarket chain also removed a further three beef products made by Greencore, which is run by Patrick Coveney, the minister's elder brother and in which the State has a stake in the form of a golden share.

The development is significant as it seems to be the first time that horse DNA has been found in what can be regarded as fresh produce.

The meat used in the Asda products came from Ireland, with Larry Goodman's ABP Group once again popping up on the radar.

A Greencore statement last night said: "The sauce contained meat that was supplied to Greencore. . . by the ABP Food Group's Nenagh plant in Tipperary.

"The company is working closely with them to determine the full facts as we await the results of the further tests."

Minister Coveney was making hay in recent times as the Food Safety Authority of Ireland was the first agency to blow the lid on the scandal.

He has sought to make the response to the problem an EU-wide issue. But our own house still needs to get into order.

Question marks still stand over the pace of the Department of Agriculture's response to the affair and the ripple effects are still being felt.

Irish Independent

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