Horse meat scandal factory sold
The meat factory at the centre of the horse meat contamination scandal in Ireland has been sold.
The ABP Food Group, owned by beef magnate Larry Goodman, has done a deal with the Kepak Group to sell its Silvercrest facility.
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, will be transferred to the new owners.
Simon Coveney, Ireland's Agriculture Minister, said it was good for the staff and the food industry.
"While this is a commercial arrangement between ABP and Kepak, I would like in particular to acknowledge ABP's commitment to the staff at the plant during the past months," he said. "The announcement today is good news for the companies concerned and for the Irish food industry generally. This is also very good news for the employees at the Silvercrest plant and local economy at Ballybay, Co Monaghan."
The deal is subject to the approval of Ireland's Competition Authority. The value of the deal was not disclosed.
Paul Finnerty, ABP Food Group chief executive, said selling Silvercrest was the right move.
"It has become apparent that the ABP Food Group was only one of a large number of leading European operations affected by the equine issue," he said. "The issue affected frozen burgers which are not core to the group's future business strategy. The company confirms that its chilled business (which is the core activity for the group) has been unaffected by the horse meat issue and sales of its chilled beef products have remained unaffected.
"Irish beef is held in the highest regard internationally and, as Europe's largest beef exporter, ABP Food Group will continue to invest in expanding and developing this and the other businesses within the group."
Earlier this week, the beef processing industry in Ireland and the UK got a clean bill of health following a series of sample tests by European officials for horse meat contamination.