Producer can be fined just €3,000 if prosecuted
THE company at the centre of the horse meat contamination scandal can only be fined a maximum of €3,000 if prosecuted.
Silvercrest in Ballybay, Co Monaghan, and retailers Tesco could be prosecuted under food labelling laws, the Food Safety Authority of Ireland (FSAI) said.
And it has also emerged that two of the three companies that produced burgers containing horse DNA are controlled by beef magnate Larry Goodman.
The businessman, a director of more than 320 companies, controls both Silvercrest and UK-based firm Dalepak Hambleton, which also produced burgers containing horse meat.
The third company under investigation is Cavan-based Liffey Meats.
Silvercrest, an arm of Mr Goodman's ABP Food Group, yesterday announced it had dispatched auditors to carry out spot checks on two suppliers, believed to be located in the Netherlands and Spain, which may have supplied an ingredient containing horse meat which was used to bind the burgers.
It also said it was introducing a new system where meat products would be routinely tested using DNA to identify the species. "ABP Food Group companies have never knowingly bought, handled or supplied equine meat products," it said.
"These results relate only to where beef-based products have been sourced by those suppliers on the continent.
"Current investigations are centred on beef products which originated from two suppliers, and we have dispatched auditors to their sites to conduct unannounced spot checks.
"We are conducting our own DNA tests on a wide number of samples and expect the results in the coming days."
Records from the Companies Registration Office show the directors of ABP Foods are Larry Goodman, John McLaughlin and Paul Finnerty.
Mr Goodman is also listed in the UK's Companies House as a director of Anglo Beef Processors, which owns Dalepak.
Liffey Meats said it was fully co-operating with the investigation by the Department of Agriculture and Food and the FSAI.
The results of tests conducted on other meat products are expected to be published later today, but the FSAI said it did not know when the source of the horse meat would be identified.
Paperwork and computer records were being examined to identify the ingredients used in the production of the burgers, which was described as "painstaking" work.
The FSAI did not rule out prosecuting Tesco or Silvercrest for mis-labelling products supposed to contain beef but which had high levels of horse DNA.