By Laura Moulden
Investigations are underway to determine why traces of horsemeat have been identified in a number of UK supermarket beef burgers.
Tests carried out by The Food Safety Authority of Ireland (FSAI) analysed a total of 27 beef burger products, finding that 38% tested positively for traces of horsemeat.
Two processing plants in Ireland (Liffey Meats and Silvercrest Foods), and the Dalepak Hambleton plant in Yorkshire, have been identified as producers of the offending burgers, which retail in a number of major supermarkets including Tesco, Aldi and Lidl.
Tesco will be amongst the worst hit by the revelation, with FSAI reporting that horsemeat accounted for approximately 29% relative to the beef content in one of their samples.
The supermarket, which has already seen a £300m dip in market value since the news broke this morning (January 16th) – released a statement addressing the “extremely serious” situation and promised to remove all items from its shelves with immediate effect.
Eighty-five per cent of beef burger products and around two-thirds of beef meal products, including cottage pie, beef curry pie and lasagne, also tested positive for pig DNA.
Prof Alan Reilly chief executive of the FSAI reassured consumers that there are no health implications from the consumption of horsemeat, but expressed his bewilderment at the findings, saying:
“There is no clear explanation at this time for the presence of horse DNA in products emanating from meat plants that do not use horsemeat in their production process.
“In Ireland, it is not in our culture to eat horsemeat and, therefore, we do not expect to find it in a burger.
“Likewise, for some religious groups, or people who abstain from eating pig meat, the presence of traces of pig DNA is unacceptable.”
Both Silvercrest Foods and Dalepak said they had never bought or traded in horse products and have launched an investigation into two continental European third party suppliers.