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Monday 20 November 2017

New plans for DNA testing of meat

Agriculture and Food Minister Simon Coveney says DNA testing of meat will soon become routine
Agriculture and Food Minister Simon Coveney says DNA testing of meat will soon become routine

DNA testing of meat will become a routine part of food testing nationwide, Agriculture Minister Simon Coveney has said.

The Department of Agriculture and Food Safety Authority of Ireland (FSAI) agreed that a national protocol for DNA testing of meat would be applied at retail, catering and processing level. "We intend to introduce DNA testing from now on as part of routine food testing across the country," Mr Coveney said.

Earlier, one of the country's largest catering companies revealed it discovered horse meat in burgers it supplied to a number of sites both north and south of the border. Compass Group Ireland said the burgers - from Rangeland Foods in Co Monaghan - had been supplied to 13 sites in the Republic and 27 in Northern Ireland - including two secondary schools.

The company has withdrawn the burgers as a precaution and issued an apology to its customers.

"Despite receiving written assurances from Rangeland Foods that none of the identified horse DNA had entered its production, we immediately took the precautionary measure of withdrawing this product and we stopped any further purchases," Compass said in a statement.

"We subsequently carried out a DNA test on a sample of the withdrawn product, which identified a minor amount of horse DNA."

Compass said it would now launch a DNA testing programme across its processed meat products.

Meanwhile, the agriculture minister said European officials had agreed to test for phenylbutazone - or "bute", a veterinary drug given to horses. Mr Coveney and his European counterparts also agreed at a meeting on Wednesday for a pan-European approach to the ongoing horse meat scandal - which will include sharing information on testing to trace back to different sources of contamination.

Cold storage firm QK Cold Stores in Naas, Co Kildare, confirmed tests on consignments of imported beef product returned positive for horse DNA. The company said it had isolated the contaminated meat and informed the Department of Agriculture.

"QK Cold Stores can confirm that as part of its own quality controls, the company conducted DNA testing on consignments of imported beef product which revealed the presence of equine DNA," the company said in a statement. "Upon discovery, these consignments were immediately isolated and either returned to the suppliers concerned or detained at QK Cold Stores facility."

Press Association

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