The articles on this page are either produced by the operator of the website, from national publishers or Government departments. Where the information is from an external source all information on the origins of the article will appear under the title.

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WHY IS THIS SECTION CALLED SWEENEY TODD ?

The fictional barber Sweeney Todd, also known as a the "Demon Barber of Fleet Street" also provided unofficial abattoir facilities to a local pie shop. So the pie purchasers, instead of eating prime cuts of beef were in fact eating absent friends !

I could have equally called this section Soylent Green, which is a SciFi novel by Harry Harrison turned into 1973 film of the same name. In this story, a world depleted of resources and suffering from the "Greenhouse Effect" finds a new way of feeding the population (Green protein tablets). In a distant processing plants ( sounds familiar ) the hero discovers that the tablets are in fact made from human flesh (then again it could be horse meat) !

The articles below are from various sources and are time lined with the most recent at the top of the list.

For the table of who has been serving what : www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-21412590

INDEX

- Links
- What is the food standards agency ?
- Horsemeat scandal - withdrawn products and test results
- Meat scandal summarised
- Who are these meat supply companies ?
- Time lined articles


LINKS

Food Safety Authority of Ireland : www.fsai.ie/

Food Standards Agency : www.food.gov.uk/

European Food Safety Authority : www.efsa.europa.eu/

US Food and Drug Administration : www.fda.gov


 


WHAT IS THE FOOD STANDARDS AGENCY ?
(BBC News, dated 15th February 2013)
www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-21476813

The scandal over the contamination of beef products with horsemeat and, in some cases pork, has thrown the Food Standards Agency into the headlines. But what is the FSA and what powers does it have?

The Food Standards Agency is an independent food safety watchdog set up in 2000 to protect the public's health and consumer interests in relation to food.

It was originally proposed in 1997, amid concerns about food poisoning, intensive farming methods and Bovine Spongiform Encephalopathy (BSE) or "mad cow disease".

Food policy experts wanted a new food agency responsible to the Secretary of State for Health, independent of the food industry, but at "arms-length" from ministers.

But food writer Joanna Blythman is highly critical of the FSA: "It was meant to be a watchdog defending consumer interests but it seems to have had an unduly cosy relationship with the food companies, bio-tech companies and large retailers ever since it was created."

She said it always appeared to treat campaign groups - such as those opposed to genetically modified (GM) foods - as a "lunatic fringe".

In 2010 the FSA had 2,000 employees and an annual budget of £135m but this was reduced as a result of the coalition government's spending cuts.

A shake-up by the new government led to the FSA handing over some of its responsibilities to government departments so it could focus solely on food safety policy and enforcemenT.

The Department of Health and the Welsh government took over nutrition policy in England and Wales but in Scotland and Northern Ireland the FSA remained in control.

The Department of Health and Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) took over food labelling in England but the FSA remains in charge of labelling in Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland.

The FSA's headquarters are in London but it has offices in York; Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.

It is accountable to Parliament through health ministers, and to the devolved administrations in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland for its activities within their areas.

Improving eating habits
 
It has been credited with raising awareness of good eating habits and persuading food manufacturers to reduce their use of salt.

FSA campaigns have included pushing for stricter rules on TV advertising to children of junk foods and a mass recall of foods containing the dye Sudan I.

But it has been sorely tested by the horsemeat scandal, which broke last month.

Ms Blythman says: "That culture of backing up the food industry has continued and the FSA sees its role as reassuring consumers that food is safe and downplaying the risk."

She said when the horsemeat scandal broke most of the supermarkets retreated to a "bunker" and she said: "The FSA was fielding the flak that should have been directed at the supermarkets."

Ms Blythman said the FSA compared very unfavourably to the Food Standards Authority Ireland (FSAI), which she said was "more pro-active" and unearthed the horsemeat contamination in the first place.

Earlier this week, after raids at meat businesses in West Yorkshire and Wales, the FSA's director of operations Andrew Rhodes said: "I ordered an audit of all horse producing abattoirs in the UK after this issue first arose last month and I was shocked to uncover what appears to be a blatant misleading of consumers.

"The Food Standards Agency is a science and evidence-led organisation and we don't do things lightly. We have very good evidence to support the actions that we have taken."

Mr Rhodes said the FSA had a presence in every abattoir in the UK and tested 90,000 products a year, for bacteria such as listeria and salmonella.

But food writer Joanna Blythman said the FSA did not have its own laboratory and could not cope with the scandal.

In its corporate strategy the FSA has set itself six "outcomes" to deliver by 2015.

These include ensuring "foods produced or sold in the UK are safe to eat" and "that consumers have the information and understanding they need to make informed choices about where and what they eat".


 

HORSEMEAT SCANDAL : WITHDRAWN PRODUCTS AND TEST RESULTS
(BBC News, date : as updated )

The discovery of horsemeat in beef products has led to a range of processed foods being withdrawn from sale across Europe.

Retailers and suppliers have been conducting tests to try to determine to what extent, if any, horsemeat is contained in their products labelled as beef.

The Food Standards Agency (FSA) says 3,634 tests have been carried out in the UK so far, with 35 tests showing the presence of horsemeat. As products were tested multiple times, the 35 positive results relate to only 13 different products, including Findus beef lasagne, which yielded at least 15 positive results.

A table of results is being updated as results emerge : www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-21412590



MEAT SCANDAL SUMMARISED
(Guardian, dated 15 February 2013)
www.guardian.co.uk,

14th February 2013

- Three men are arrested in Aberystwyth and Todmorden, West Yorkshire following FSA inspections.

- At Farmbox Meats near the Welsh town, the owner Dafydd Raw-Rees, 64, and a 42-year-old man are arrested and a 63-year-old man is arrested in West Yorkshire.

- Police arrest the men after it emerges a significant amount of horse meat containing bute could have been entering the food chain for some time.

- Authorities in Britain and France try to trace the carcasses of six horses contaminated with bute that were slaughtered in a UK abattoir and may have entered the human food chain across the Channel.

- The drug, potentially harmful to human health, was detected in eight horses out of 206 tested by the FSA in the first week of this month.

- Two were intercepted and destroyed before leaving the slaughterhouse but the other six were sent to France, where horse meat is commonly eaten.

13th February 2013

- Cameron promises that anyone involved in passing off horsemeat as beef will face the full force of the law.

- EU agriculture ministers agree to random DNA testing of processed meat products after an emergency meeting in Brussels.

- They also agree to test for "bute" - a powerful anti-inflammatory drug for horses - which could pose a health risk if passed on to humans

12th February 2013

- The FSA raids a slaughterhouse in West Yorkshire and a meat plant in Wales under suspicion of passing off horsemeat as beef for kebabs and burgers.

- The FSA and police officers enter the Peter Boddy slaughterhouse in Todmorden, West Yorkshire, and Farmbox Meats in Llandre in Aberystwyth, west Wales.

- Production is suspended pending the outcome of investigations into claims the companies supplied and used horse carcasses in meat products purporting to be beef.

- Meanwhile, Waitrose announces it is pulling a range of beef meatballs after tests revealed they might contain pork.

11th February

The environment secretary, Owen Paterson, says legal action over the scandal will be mounted in Europe.

- He describes the contamination of beef products as a case of fraud and conspiracy against the public.

- Meanwhile, Tesco becomes the latest firm to drop a major supplier after discovering a range of spaghetti bolognese ready meals contained more than 60% horsemeat.


8th February 2013

- David Cameron labels the scandal a "very shocking story" and says "it's completely unacceptable".

- Meanwhile, Aldi confirms two of its ready meal ranges were found to contain up to 100% horsemeat.


7th February 2013

- The FSA reveals a second case of "gross contamination" after some Findus UK beef lasagnes were found to contain up to 100% horsemeat. The products were made by Comigel.

- The agency says it believes "criminal activity" is to blame and orders food companies to test their beef products.

- Tesco and Aldi remove ranges of ready meals produced by Comigel from their shelves.

6th  February 2013

- Tesco and Aldi take down frozen spaghetti and lasagne meals produced by French food supplier Comigel, following concerns about its Findus beef lasagne.

5th February 2013

- Frozen meat at Freeza Meats company in Newry, Northern Ireland, is found to contain 80% horsemeat, the Food Standards Agency Northern Ireland says. It is potentially linked to the Silvercrest factory in the Republic of Ireland.

- Asda withdraws products supplied by Freeza Meats.

4th February 2013

- Production at a second meat supplier, Rangeland Foods in County Monaghan, is suspended after 75% equine DNA is found in raw ingredients, the department of agriculture confirms.

- The Irish department of agriculture calls in police to aid its investigation, which includes possible fraud.

- ABP Food Group is estimated to have lost €45m (£39m) in contracts.

30th January 2013

- Irish authorities believe "filler product" made from horsemeat and beef found in contaminated burgers came from Poland, the FSA says.

25th January 2013

- The department of agriculture in Ireland reveals it has taken more than 130 samples of burgers and ingredients in the past week from the Silvercrest facility.

- Meanwhile Waitrose removes a range of frozen burgers made by Dalepak but says its burgers have been tested and are 100% beef.

- The Food Standards Agency (FSA) says tests at a Dalepak plant in North Yorkshire found no traces of meat contaminated with horse or pork DNA.

- Silvercrest used meat in its products that did not come from a list of approved suppliers and was from outside the UK and Ireland, Tesco says, after dropping the company.

23th January 2013

- Burger King, which is supplied burgers by ABP Food Group, switches to another supplier as a precautionary measure.

17th January 2013

- The ABP Food Group suspends work at its Silvercrest Foods plant in County Monaghan, Ireland, until further notice.

- Sainsbury's, Asda and the Co-op withdraw some frozen products as a precaution, but have not been found to be selling contaminated food.

16th January 2013

- The Food Safety Authority of Ireland says beefburgers with traces of equine DNA, including one product classed as 29% horse, are being supplied to supermarkets by Silvercrest Foods in Ireland and Dalepak Hambleton in Yorkshire, subsidiaries of the ABP Food Group.

- Ten million burgers are taken off the shelves, by retailers including Tesco, Lidl, Aldi, Iceland and Dunnes Stores.

- A third company, Liffey meats, based in County Cavan, Ireland, is also found to be supplying products to supermarkets with traces of horse
DNA.


 

WHO ARE THESE MEAT SUPPLY COMPANIES ?



 I JUST WANT A BURGER - WHO ARE THEY ?

When we go to our local supermarket or take-away up until now we assumed that the food that they are providing is being closely monitored during its production. That the retailer is really close to the green fields where the farmed animal once grazed. At one stage as part of some of the retailers marketing hype they even named the farmer who once fed "Daisy" the cow and "Porkie" pig. Far from being "Farmer Giles" looking after their animals and our welfare we are now starting to discover that it is some faceless boardroom executive in the US, Paris and the Netherlands !

Looking through the various articles that I have read through over the last few weeks I have picked up on a couple of new names in the food industry. So apart from the well known, Nestle, Birds Eye and Findus; here are a few more.


BFS GROUP LTD

Source : http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/BFS_Group_Ltd

3663, is the trading name of BFS Group Limited, is a large foodservice and catering equipment distributor based in the United Kingdom. The brand currently operates as three separate divisions: 3663 Wholesale (Food and beverages), 3663 Catering Equipment and Swithenbank Foods.

3663 operates a fleet of over 800 temperature-controlled delivery vehicles, delivering fresh, chilled, and frozen goods out of 23 depots, and 4 regional distribution centres across the United Kingdom.

BFS Group Limited is a wholly owned subsidiary of Bidvest Group Limited, an international services, trading and distribution company listed on the JSE Securities Exchange in South Africa. Bidvest was found in 1988 and is listed on the Johannesburg Stock Exchange, with over 100,000 employees on four continents.

What the company says about its operations (www.3663corporate.co.uk/about-us/who-we-are/the-3663-family) :

3663 division

We value the trust you place in us and are taking a very proactive approach to managing suppliers and withdrawing products from sale where suppliers are implicated with horsemeat contamination even if there is no evidence that our products are directly affected. As soon as we are made aware of any possible contamination with a supplier we take the following precautionary actions:
We will withdraw from sale to our customers any comminuted beef lines from suppliers who become connected with any suspicion of potential horsemeat contamination.
 
These lines will remain off sale until they have been tested and proved not to contain any horsemeat. If any are found to contain horsemeat we will pro-actively recall these products. We will continue to provide our customers with a range of suitable alternative products
 
Additionally even where we have test results that show a negative result from a supplier, we will continue to monitor the supplier status.

If we have any further information that indicates possible contamination with any supplier we will withdraw products from sale to conduct additional testing even where we already have a test certificate that is negative for the presence of horsemeat.

For a full list of all products available from our price list that have now tested negative for horsemeat :

www.3663corporate.co.uk/site/static/files/3663_Customer_Communication_14032013-01.pdf


Swithenbank :

- Strong relationships between our buying team and our growers and suppliers means, as well as being able to source product worldwide, the

trust that we have built up delivers product quality and consistency, always guaranteeing a complete supply chain from 'field to fork'.

- Fresh produce is hand picked and hand packed to agreed specifications with comprehensive quality assurance checking - ensuring customers

receive the best quality product, in the correct quantity every time.

- We are entrepreneurial in our business approach. Our specialist buying team is empowered to procure the best product, at the best value.

- Our buyers are empowered to meet our customers' needs making Swithenbank Foods very dynamic, with the ability to react quickly to market changes and customer demands.


 

BRAKE BROTHERS

Brake Bros Limited (Brakes) is now a distribution company supplying food, drink and other products mainly to the catering (or 'foodservice') industry in many countries, including the UK and France. It provides delivered wholesale and contract logistical services and has its own manufacturing operation.

- The company was established in 1958 supplying poultry to caterers in Kent and London.
- Poultry processing ceased in 1974 as the decision was taken to expand the frozen foof side of the business.
- Floated on stock exchange in 1986.
- 2004 Brakes launches Prime Meats its specialist meat division offering transparency and traceability for the caterer.
- 2007 Brakes is acquired by Bain Capital *

* Bain Capital is an American alternative asset management and financial services company based in Boston, Massachusetts. It specialises in private equity, venture capital, credit and public market investments. Bain invests across a broad range of industry sectors and geographic regions. As of early 2012, the firm managed approximately $66 billion of investor capital across its various investment platforms.


The Brakes Group is made up of 10 divisions:
 
- Brakes
- M&J Seafood
- Country Choice (Including Bake & Bite)
- Pauleys
- Prime Meats
- Brakes Catering Equipment
- Wild Harvest
- Creative Foods
- Brakes Logistics
- Brake France

UK Acquisitions since flotation in November 1986 :


- Woodward Foodservice Ltd (2008)
- Peters Food services Ltd (2004)
- W Pauley & Co Limited (2002)
- Seafoodirect (2002)
- Scotia Campbell Marine Limited (2001)
- Bertello (2001)
- Roach Frozen Foods (2001)
- Cearns & Brown Limited (2000)
- M&J Seafoods (Wholesale) Ltd (2000)
- Bayliss & Sons (1999)
- Watson & Philip Foodservice (1998)
- G R Tanner Co. - Tanner Frozen Foods (1997)
- Dairyfresh Desserts Limited (1997)
- Puritan Maid Limited (1995)
- P&B Fine Foods (1995)
- Woods Frozen Foods (1995)
- Runnymede Frozen Foods (1994)
- Jesse Robinson (Nottingham) Limited (1994)
- Country Choice Foods Group limited (1993)
- Bentley's Frozen Foods Limited (1993)
- Feathers Fresh 'n' Frozen Foods Limited (1993)
- Deben Valley Foods (1992)
- Anderson's Frozen Foods Limited (1992)
- Double A Foods (1992)
- Peterson's Food Co. (1992)
- First Frozen Foods (1992)
- Everfresh Frozen Foods Limited (1991)
- London Larder Limited (1991)
- Peter Hooper Frozen Foods Limited (1991)
- Midfish Limited (1991)
- Rossfrost (1990)
- Peter Shaw Products (1990)
- Caterfrost (1990)
- Elmdale Foods Limited (1990)
- Spring Valley Foods Limited (1989)
- S H Wickett & Son Limited (1989)
- VJG Foods (1989)
- Cardigan Frozen Foods (1988)
- Scotia Frozen Foods Limited (1987)


 


BOPORAN HOLDINGS LIMITED (BHL)

- 2 Sisters Food Group / Boparan Holdings / Boporan Ventures Ltd founded in 1990 (1993 ?).

- 13 manufacturing sites in UK

- 1 manufacturing site in Poland

- 1 manufacturing site in Netherlands

- 1 manufacturing site in USA

- Employs 7,000 people ( plus 3,000 from Vion purchase in March 2013 )

- Produces own-brand products for Tesco, Waitrose, Marks and Spencer

- Their own brands include : Buxted, Devonshire Red (Free range chicken), FishWorks, Harry Ramsden

Source : http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ranjit_Singh_Boparan


SODEXO

Sodexo is a French multi-national corporation headquartered in Paris. Sodexo is one of the largest food services and facilities management companie in the World :

- Company launched in 1966 as Sodexho Alliance.
- 380,000 employees, 2nd largest employer among French multi-nationals
- Operates in 80 countries
- Revenue in 2010 = 15.3 billion Euro's
- In 1998 merged with Marriott Management Services to become one the largest food services companies in North America.
- In 2002 Sodexo was listed on the New York Stock Exchange.
- In 2007, Sodexo launched its catering arm in UK schools
- In 2008 Sodexho Alliance changed its name after shareholder vote to Sodexo.

In July 2010 Sodexo settled charges brought by the state of New York alleging overcharging for food service and facilities management at public schools. According to a case brought by New York State Attorney General Andrew Cuomo, Sodexo received rebates from suppliers without passing on the savings to its clients. Sodexo paid a total of $30 million to the whistleblowers and affected schools, making it the largest ever settlement in New York made possible by the state's false claims act that didn't involve the Medicare program. The settlement did not include an admission of liability from the company. The case brought in New York has led to similar investigations in locations including New Jersey,Washington, D.C.and Berkeley, California.

All of the frozen beef products produced by Sodexo and sold in the UK were withdrawn on 22nd February 2013 following the discovery of horse DNA in a sample. The company supplies 2,300 institutions, including schools, old-age people homes, prisons and branches of the armed forces within the UK.

Source : http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sodexo


IMPORTANT NOTE : This article has been included to show how complicated the human food chain is and how many organisations and countries are involved (see also article footnote "Further information" ). To date there is no evidence that any of these companies have had any problems with their meat supply.

(15th March 2013)

 

 


 
TIME LINED ARTICLES


BID TO HALT MASS MEAT RECALL FAILS
(NEWS.COM.AU, dated 18th April 2013 author Nicolas Delaunay)
www.news.com.au   [Option 1]

A DUTCH court has rejected a meat wholesaler's bid to quash an order recalling 50,000 tonnes of beef potentially contaminated with horsemeat.

"The court rejects the request for a preliminary injunction," on Dutch food authority NVWA's recall of meat handled by Willy Selten, judge Reinier van Zutphen said at the commercial court in The Hague on Thursday.

Businessman Selten, allegedly a key player in Europe's horsemeat scandal, had sought to overturn the NVWA's order to recall all meat sold by the company over the past two years.

The watchdog recalled 50,000 tonnes of beef suspected to have been contaminated with horse, asking hundreds of companies across Europe supplied by Selten to check their products.

Selten's company was on Tuesday declared bankrupt and placed under curatorship.

His lawyer, Frank Peters, said Selten was disappointed after he informed him of the court's decision by phone.

"He (Selten) is very disappointed that with the tumult, the distress caused by the recall, there is no intervention by this court," Peters said.

NVWA spokesman Brenno Bruggink said it was now up to other countries that bought meat from Selten to decide whether they wanted to order national recalls.

"We informed 15 other EU countries that they had had meat from Selten, so most of the work has already been done," Bruggink said.

About half the suspect meat was sold in The Netherlands and half in the EU, he said.

"We think that most of it has already been eaten," Bruggink said.

"We have to go and do what we can. Whatever we can find, we'll find."

Lawyer Peters had argued on Tuesday that the recall was "disproportionate" and "bizarre and bordering on the mass hysteria gripping the whole of Europe".

He said there had never been a complaint in the 22 years in which Selten's company distributed meat from the small Dutch town of Oss, stressing: "All his meat comes from within the European Union."

The NVWA said it had sent a letter to 130 Dutch companies who were supplied with possible horse-contaminated beef from the Selten company, asking them to "take it off the market as a precautionary measure" and "verify all products".

The NVWA authority said although the meat's origin could not be guaranteed, "there are no signs of a danger to the public health".

Dutch officials in February raided the Selten meat processing plant in the south of The Netherlands on suspicion that it was mixing horsemeat with beef and selling it as pure beef.

It handled imports from various European countries and delivered to retailers, meat wholesalers, butchers, the meat processing industry and supermarkets throughout Europe.

The plant was probed as part of a criminal investigation by the prosecutor's office and the NVWA.

It is suspected of fraud and money laundering, the prosecutor's office said at the time.

Since the horsemeat scandal erupted in Ireland in January, governments have scrambled to figure out how and where the mislabelling of meat happened in the sprawling chain of production spanning abattoirs and meat suppliers across Europe.

[This refers to the article directly below]

(18th April 2013)


DUTCH UNCOVER LARGE-SCALE MEAT FRAUD
(BBC News, dated 10th April 2013)

Some 50,000 tonnes of meat supplied by two Dutch trading companies and sold as beef across Europe since January 2011 may have contained horsemeat. The meat is being recalled where possible, the Dutch authorities say.

There was no evidence that the meat was a threat to human health, the Netherlands Food and Consumer Product Safety Authority said.

In total, 132 companies in the Netherlands and some 370 more around Europe are affected by the discovery.

The suspect meat was supplied by Wiljo Import en Export BV and Vleesgroothandel Willy Selten. The two companies are owned by one man who has already previously been investigated by food safety officials, the BBC's Matthew Price reports.

The latest find was made as part of EU-wide tests to trace horse DNA in processed beef foods and to detect a veterinary drug used on horses.

The results of the rest of the tests conducted across the EU will be made public next week - giving consumers a better idea of how widespread the scandal has been.

The Dutch decided to release their results early because of the magnitude of what they had discovered, our correspondent says.

'Already consumed'
 
The recall covers meat dating back to 1 January 2011 up until 15 February this year, the Dutch food authority said on Wednesday.
Due to the lapse of time, a lot of the meat "may already have been consumed", it added.

Inspectors examining the records of the Dutch trading companies found that the origin of the supplied meat was unclear. As a result it was not possible to confirm whether slaughterhouses had respected procedures.

Some of the suspect meat was also exported to Germany, France and Spain, where authorities have been alerted. The British Food Standards Agency has confirmed that a small number of UK companies may have received products from the Dutch wholesalers.

"It might contain traces of horsemeat, but we don't know for certain at the moment if this is the case," said Esther Filon, a spokeswoman for the Dutch food authority.

"The buyers have probably already processed the meat and sold it on. They, in turn, are obliged to inform their own customers."

New EU law
 
All EU member states have been informed of the Dutch discovery, EU spokesman Frederic Vincent told the BBC.

They have been urged to check whether or not processed meat products coming from the plants in question were still on the market, he added.

"The Dutch announcement is a consequence of the investigations which were launched by EU member states a few weeks ago," the EU spokesman said.

"Given the size of the fraud, the Dutch decided to go public with their discovery."

Traces of horsemeat have been found in numerous processed beef frozen meals across Europe.

In February, Dutch officials raided a meat processing plant suspected of mislabelling beef and ordered the withdrawal of suspicious products from supermarket shelves.

Other countries affected included the UK, the Republic of Ireland, France, Switzerland, Sweden and Germany.

The EU is set to adopt an Animal and Plant Health legislative proposal in the coming weeks, which includes clauses designed to tackle food fraud.

Analysis (Anna Holligan - BBC News, The Netherlands)

With its imposing grey gates, the Willy Selten factory in Oss does not receive many visitors outside the meat trade. That was according to the owner, whom we met on a chilly Saturday afternoon in February. Investigations into the Netherlands' role in the Europe-wide horsemeat scandal had brought us here.

The suspicion is now that it was here, behind the corrugated shutters, that horsemeat was relabelled and sold on as beef. The Dutch Food Safety Authority offered Willy Selten an ultimatum: "Trace the origins of your meat or we will take over."

On Wednesday morning an urgent recall message was sent out to 502 companies across Europe - a "rapid alert" to locate all of the products that may have been contaminated. Willy Selten has been under strict supervision ever since the initial suspicions emerged in February.

It may be a surprise to many to learn that the factory is still operating, though reports in the Dutch media claim it is facing bankruptcy. A Food Safety Authority spokeswoman explained: "Our policy in the Netherlands is that everybody should be given a second chance."


(18th April 2013)


HORSEMEAT SUPPLIED TO EDINBURGH PRIMARY SCHOOLS
(BBC News, dated 29th March 2013)
www.bbc.co.uk

A batch of frozen mince supplied to six schools in Edinburgh contained between 1% and 5% horsemeat, the city's council has confirmed.

A sample of the meat was taken in February from the shared kitchen of Pirniehall and St David's primary schools.

The same batch was also supplied to Oxgangs and Craigroyston primaries and Braidburn and Forthview secondaries.

It is not known whether the mince was served to pupils.

A letter has been sent to parents of pupils at each of the six schools, advising them of the test results and reassuring them that there is "no risk to health from consuming horsemeat".

Councillor Cathy Fullerton, the council's vice convener of education, said: "It's very important to emphasise that there is no risk whatsoever to people's health from consuming horsemeat, but obviously we all want to be certain that we know exactly what we are eating.

"This is why the council chose to seek extra assurance that our external suppliers were not providing any products containing horsemeat by carrying out our own testing.

Frozen burger

"Parents can be reassured that we have taken absolutely the correct course of action in immediately making sure there is none of this frozen mince remaining in school kitchens.

"We have written to all parents in the six schools to let them know about this and will be happy to discuss any further queries they may have."

Food at all six of the schools is procured by the PPP contractor, who in turn sourced the frozen mince from catering firm 3663.

On 8 March, 3663 recalled all batches of this frozen mince beef product.

The council has been carrying out tests on meat products supplied to schools, residential homes and other local authority establishments since 14 February under the direction of the Food Standards Agency as part of their UK-wide authenticity survey.

A spokesman for the council said: "Some 85 meat product samples have been taken from council catering establishments to date and all except one have tested negative for the presence of horsemeat."

The results have been reported to the Food Standards Agency.

In February, traces of horse DNA have been found in a frozen burger within a school kitchen in North Lanarkshire.

(18th April 2013)


HORSEMEAT : FSA REVEALS NEW FIND IN LANCASHIRE
(BBC News, dated 22nd March 2013)
www.bbc.co.uk

One hundred kilograms of horsemeat imported from Hungary and labelled as beef has been discovered in Lancashire, the Food Standards Agency has said.

Some 40kg has already been sold to the public through Hungarian Food Ltd's market stall in Preston and the Taste of Hungary shop in Liverpool.

The meat was sold in 1kg bags labelled "diced beef".

The Food Standards Agency (FSA) has notified the European Commission and the Hungarian authorities.

The remaining unsold meat has been withdrawn from sale.

Lancashire County Council is investigating and the meat will be tested for the veterinary drug "bute".

'Tasted like beef'
 
The meat was imported by Hungarian Food Ltd of Preston.

Attila Fabian, manager of the Taste of Hungary shop, said he had eaten some of the horsemeat, thinking it was beef.

He said: "It tasted like beef, it looked like beef. I was shocked today when environmental health told what happened exactly."

He said he had bought 20 1kg bags of what he thought was diced beef from Hungarian Food Ltd in May last year, rather than import it directly.

However, it did not sell as well as expected and he took four or five bags of the meat home for his family.

Earlier this month, the FSA said preliminary tests had found six new beef products that may contain horse DNA.

The checks were conducted by local councils following the earlier recalls of supermarket and caterer meat products containing horsemeat.

'Worrying' development
 
They also found three beef products with pig DNA above a 1% threshold.

The FSA has said members of the public would be asked if they found low levels - or "trace contamination" - of horse and other species in beef products acceptable.

It comes after more than 6,000 tests for horse DNA were carried out in six weeks.

Shadow environment secretary Mary Creagh described the FSA find as "worrying" and said it meant "the horsemeat scandal has spread from supermarkets and schools through to market stalls".


(25th March 2013)


 

TESCO WITHDRAWS CZECH SALAMI CONTAINING HORSEMEAT
(Reuters, dated 20th March 2013 authors Jana Micochova and Michael Roddy)
http://uk.reuters.com

British food giant Tesco has withdrawn from its Czech stores a locally made salami that tests showed contained horsemeat, a spokesman for the retailer said on Wednesday.

The Herkules salami, made by local food processor Krahulik Masozavod Krahulci, contained around 5 percent of undeclared horsemeat DNA and was withdrawn from all Tesco shelves in the central European country, spokesman Jiri Marecek said in a press release.

Tesco tested five other meat products from the same company for horsemeat DNA but those tests were negative, the statement added.

The checks were carried out in response to a Europe-wide scandal that erupted last month when tests carried out in Ireland revealed some beef products contained horsemeat.

(22nd March 2013)


 

NESTLE BOSS BLAMES "FRAUDSTERS" OVER HORSE MEAT
(The Telegraph, dated 16th March 2013 author James Quinn)
www.telegraph.co.uk   [Option 1]

Despite the company's involvement in the recent horse meat scandal, Paul Bulcke, who heads the world's largest food conglomerate which makes everything from Kit Kats to Herta Frankfurters, blames "fraudsters" for the scandal which has seen products withdrawn from the shelves across Europe.

Mr Bulcke said that a sense of "proportion" was necessary, as he blamed criminal elements for the entry of horse DNA into beef products.

Nestle has withdrawn products in Italy, Spain and France after tests revealed traces of equine DNA, but its products in the UK and Ireland have not been affected.

The company's products were damaged as a result of supplies from third party meat companies.

Mr Bulcke said: "We have never lived in an era where food has been so safe. The fact is that we have to keep these things in proportion.

"However my attitude there is this is a pity because the perception is reality. The perception in society and the population at large is our industry, food and beverages, is you cannot depend on them, that we are a bunch of cheaters.

"That we're living in an environment where food has never been as unsure and unsafe - and actually that's totally the contrary."

Mr Bulcke acknowledged that despite Nestle's marginal involvement in the scandal, it would have to work to regain the trust of consumers. He also revealed the company is working intensively with authorities across Europe to ensure the problem does not happen again.

Nestle removed beef pasta meals in Italy and Spain last month after very low traces of horse DNA were found in test samples from its Buitoni range. It also withdrew a frozen product for catering businesses from sale in France for similar reasons.

However the Nestle chief executive, in the UK last week to open a new £35m water bottling plant in Buxton, Derbyshire, said that the scandal was not a matter of safety, but one of labelling.

He revealed that many of the suppliers involved in the wider scandal had previously been dropped from Nestle's supplier lists for other reasons.

He went on to say that the company did check for equine DNA when first selecting suppliers, but not a continuous basis, something that has now changed since the scandal emerged last month.

"We wouldn't in our minds start to cheat cheaply for a short term profit, putting our brand names and our good names on the line - that is just plain stupid," he said.

"To the fraudsters doing these things and putting the whole industry in the spotlight, well I say, shame on them."

(22nd March 2013)


 

FLOGGING A DEAD HORSE : GENETICS AND THE UK HORSE MEAT SCANDAL
(Wellcome Trust, dated 11th March 2013 author Mun-Keat Looi)

Full article : http://wellcometrust.wordpress.com/2013/03/11/flogging-a-dead-horse-genetics-and-the-uk-horsemeat-scandal/

The UK has been up in arms about the horsemeat scandal in recent weeks. But detecting horsemeat through genetics is harder than you think, writes Mark Jobling.
 
We may live in a global village, and do our research in multinational departments, but local cultural traditions still count. A chilly October morning in the bleak English Midlands, and a PhD student newly arrived from Italy (let's call her Giovanna) takes a cigarette break outside our building. In the camaraderie of smokers, she strikes up a conversation with Keith, who is taking a rest from the autoclaving. "Where can I find horse?", she asks. Processing this odd question, via her foreign-ness, he pictures Leicester race-course, and wonders about country riding clubs. But he is wide of the mark. Giovanna's thoughts are in the kitchen, and when Keith realizes this, the conversation stops short.
 
For the British (and for most of the English-speaking world), eating horsemeat (hippophagy) is just not an option, something they would never, ever do. At least, that's what we all thought until recently, when it turned out that many of us had been unwittingly doing exactly that for some time. The 'horsemeat crisis' has moved from the detection of a few percent contamination in burgers to the finding of lasagne purportedly made with beef, but actually being pure, unadulterated horse. The health risks are probably minimal - there is some concern about a drug, phenylbutazone, allowed in horses but prohibited in humans - but nonetheless many tonnes of processed foods have been destroyed.
 
According to Alan Davidson's compendious and wonderful Oxford Companion to Food [1], the most avid consumers of horsemeat are the Italians, particularly those from the region around Venice, but there is also considerable enthusiasm among the peoples of France, Belgium, the Netherlands, Germany, Sweden and Iceland. A dislike of horsemeat is one of those things (along with a similar feeling about frogs and snails) that distinguishes a true Brit from a Frenchman - what some have called 'gastro-nationalism'. To the novice British tourist in France a boucherie chevaline, the specialist horse-butcher marked by a gilded horse-head above the door, is a surprising sight. Interestingly, given the current crisis, the reason that these were kept distinct from other butchers (bouchers classiques) was to guard against the threat of fraudulent sale of horse as beef.
 
Revulsion at eating horses is partly connected to the idea of the horse as a noble animal, but also to the more pragmatic point that, as a means of transport and traction, it was traditionally worth more alive than dead. In medieval times eating horses was a desperate act associated with famine, so a link was formed between hippophagy and poverty. Nineteenth-century attempts to turn British attitudes around [2] included a proposal to rename horsemeat cheval, in the same euphemistic way that we use words derived from French terms for the meat of the pig (porc) and cow (boeuf). In 1868 a horse banquet was held for 150 guests by London's Society for the Propagation of Horse Flesh as an Article of Food. Despite all this, it didn't catch on. Apart from the general dislike, a particular problem may have been that British horsemeat came from tough old animals at the end of their working lives.
 
Finding the horse in your burger requires DNA analysis, and exploits the marked interspecies differences between mitochondrial DNAs (mtDNAs) that result from their relatively high mutation rates. The properties that have made this molecule a popular tool in animal species 'barcoding' projects also allow the design of real-time polymerase chain reaction (PCR) assays that specifically identify horse DNA in a mixture of meats from other species. These assays are remarkably sensitive, allowing the detection of levels as low as 0.0001% . The journal Meat Science has plenty of articles on this topic, including a nice sausage-specific example [5].
 
Such studies also describe the identification of a wide range of species mixtures other than horse and cow, including chicken, turkey, sheep, pig, and donkey. Distinguishing horse from donkey can be tricky, as the species are closely related, but apparently important, because some cultures eat one, but not the other. The Italians are fond of both.
 
However, as well as the sausage manufacturers, horses (Equus caballus) and donkeys (Equus asinus) can do the mixing themselves, to produce interspecific hybrids - mules and hinnies.
 
The nature of the offspring depends on the sex of the parents, and a mnemonic helps here: for a mule, the mare is the mother; for a hinny, the he is a horse. Producing mules (the more common and useful hybrid) is not an easy business, because, 'in equine courtship it is the stallion who takes the initiative, and… the donkey stallion is a fastidious fellow, and he does not willingly engage in anything which might be regarded as slightly improper'. The phenotypes are different (probably as a result of parentally imprinted genes), with a mule appearing to have a donkey's ears and a horse's tail, and a hinny the other way round. People eat mules, as well as donkeys and horses, and in meat contamination testing, mule meat would appear to be horsemeat, because of the maternal inheritance of mtDNA.
 
Horses have 64 chromosomes, and donkeys 62, so mules and hinnies carry the intermediate odd number 63, which leads to infertility in the hybrids because oocytes fail during meiosis. As Thomas Bewick writes in his A General History of Quadrupeds , 'Nature has providently stopped the further propagation of these heterogeneous productions, to preserve, uncontaminated, the form of each animal; without which, …every creature, losing its original perfection, would rapidly degenerate'. Occasionally, though, a female mule produces a foal after mating with a male donkey; so rare is this event that the Romans used the phrase Cum mula peperit (when a mule gives birth), equivalent to the English 'once in a blue moon'. One such product, a healthy female in China who could plough a field by herself at 4 years of age, had 62 chromosomes, a mix of horse and donkey with a bias towards the latter.
 
In the global market-place of the internet, obtaining novel and exotic animal food products is becoming ever easier, and if you have a strong stomach and wonder how broad the scope is, just visit www.exoticmeatmarkets.com, where you'll find pretty much everything (except horse…). But are these things really what they say? Contributors to Meat Science, take note - there is work for you to do!
 
Back in our multinational department, too, the gastro-exotica goes on, as my Estonian postdoc kindly brings me a present: a tin of karuliha - bear-meat. We have yet to eat it.

(22nd March 2013)


 

MEAT FIRM APOLOGISES OVER HORSEMEAT SCANDAL
(RTE News / Ireland, dated 15th March 2013)
www.rte.ie/news

One of the meat processors strongly criticised by the Minister for Agriculture (Republic of Ireland) over its handling of the horsemeat scandal has apologised.
 
QK Meats said this evening it has launched an investigation into what went wrong. It said quality and safety of its produce was of the utmost importance.
 
The company stated it never knowingly incorporated horsemeat into any of its beef products.
 
The Department of Agriculture strongly criticised the company yesterday in its report into how horsemeat got into Irish-made meat products.

In particular, the department said QK knew it had equine DNA in some product imported from Poland from June of last year, but did not tell the authorities until a few weeks ago.
 
Management, the report stated, had shown scant regard for the public good by their conduct.
 
Subsequent tests confirmed the presence of horsemeat in products made from meat supplied by QK Meats.
 
In a statement this evening, the company said that "following concern about a batch of product" it started testing it in June of last year, months before the scandal emerged last January.
 
Any product found to have equine DNA was isolated and either returned to the company or quarantined on its premises.
 
No material that tested positive for equine DNA was allowed into the food chain. The company said it believed its actions were correct and complied with regulations.
 
The meat it bought came from an EU approved and licensed supplier. The Minister for Agriculture confirmed it had broken no laws.
 
The company said: "It is now clear that our actions fell short, specifically in not contacting the Department sooner. We have apologised to the Department for this, deeply regret it and any breach of trust which it has caused given out commitment to food quality and safety."
 
QK Meats said it has launched a full investigation into all events surrounding the issue.
 
Elsewhere, the ABP Food Group, which owns Silvercrest Meats, says it is bitterly disappointed by Minister Coveney's statement.
 
ABP said it operates to the very highest standards, but the controls in the case of Silvercrest let the company down.
 
Coveney to centralise issuing of horse passports
 
Minister for Agriculture Simon Coveney has said the licensing system for horses has to be "radically changed".
 
Speaking on RTÉ's Morning Ireland, Mr Coveney said the system whereby seven individual bodies currently issue horse passports would have to end.
 
He said this would be replaced by a centralised issuing body controlled by the Department of Agriculture to ensure there is a "watertight system".
 
His comments come after an inspection at Ossory Meats in Banagher, Co Offaly, found that 25 horses presented for slaughter had irregularities relating to their passport and microchip identification.
 
Mr Coveney said that to deliberately falsify the identity of a horse was a criminal offence.
 
However, he rejected suggestions that the wholesale slaughter of horses in Ireland should stop until the new licensing system is in place.
 
Mr Coveney said that currently horses are only being allowed into the food chain on a "positive release" basis.
 
This means that every single horse carcass that is slaughtered is tested for the drug bute, which is used on horses but poses a risk to humans, and only when they pass the test are they released into the food chain.
 
Previously, carcasses were only tested on a random basis.
 
Mr Coveney said that although the pilot project, which has been running for the past month, was expensive, it is necessary to preserve the integrity of Irish food.
 
Meanwhile, the Irish Cattle and Sheep Farmers' Association has called on Mr Coveney to take a much tougher stance with meat processors who fail to meet traceability standards.
 
Also speaking on Morning Ireland, ICSA President Gabriel Gilmartin said farmers are forced to comply with strict conditions when it comes to traceability and he wants the same regime introduced for meat processors.
 
Mr Gilmartin said the minister would have to start imposing serious financial penalties on processors where identification irregularities have been found.
 
The IFA Chairman of the Horse Project Team, James Murphy, has rejected suggestions that the slaughtering of horses should be halted until a new licensing system for horses is introduced.
 
Mr Murphy said over 24,000 horses are slaughtered in Ireland each year and he called it a legacy of the boom.
 
He said: "It's an unfortunate figure bearing in mind we don't breed horses for slaughter. But it's a legacy of the Celtic Tiger years when it was almost a fashion accessory to have a horse."

(22nd March 2013)


 

QUEEN'S OFFICIAL SUPPLIED HORSEMEAT FOR SODEXO
(The Guardian, dated 14th March 2013 author David Batty)
www.guardian.co.uk  [Option 1]

A business owned by the family of the Queen's master of horse, Lord Vestey, has confirmed it supplied beef contaminated with horsemeat to one of Britain's largest private catering businesses.

The peer has been chairman of the Vestey Food Group since 1995 and, according to the official website of the British monarchy, the master of the horse is the senior officer of the royal household who is responsible for the royal mews and the Queen's carriages and horses.

The company, which has been owned by the Vestey family since it was founded in 1897, sold minced beef and minced halal beef containing more than 1% horsemeat to Sodexo, which provides food for public services including the armed forces, schools, care homes and prisons.

In a statement Vestey Foods UK said "it has supplied Sodexo with meat products manufactured by GA international Food Service and that in co-operation with the FSA [Food Standards Agency], a programme of DNA testing on manufactured beef products from all our beef suppliers has been in place for some weeks." The company said further test results were due at the end of the month.

Sodexo announced on 22 February that it was withdrawing all frozen beef products across most of its business following the discovery of horse DNA in one of the samples it had tested.

But it had declined to name the supplier of the beef product which tested positive for horse DNA and would not say if it was a British or Irish manufacturer. The government also refused demands from MPs to name the supplier.

A spokesperson for the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs said: "It would have been inappropriate for government ministers to disclose information that could have been potentially affected the FSA investigation."

(22nd March 2013)


 

PORK DNA IN HALAL SAUSAGES AT A WESTMINSTER PRIMARY SCHOOL
(BBC News, dated 14th March 2013)
www.bbc.co.uk

Pork DNA has been found in halal chicken sausages served in a primary school in Westminster, central London, the local authority said.

The sausages were from St Mary's Bryanston Square, a Church of England school, Westminster Council confirmed.

Tests on a sample from Burdett Coutts School revealed the presence of lamb and pork DNA in lean minced beef.

The items have been removed from all school meals and the contractor was asked not to use its meat supplier.

Council officers took seven samples in total from three schools in the last week of February to carry out tests on meat products served in schools following the horsemeat scandal.

Under Islamic law, Muslims are strictly forbidden to eat pork.

Halal sausages are served in 15 primary schools, two nurseries, one special school and one pupil referral unit, which take only halal meat.

More than 4,400 pupils choose sausages as a meal option, the council said.

The council said it decided to carry out tests for the presence of DNA from beef, lamb, pork, chicken, turkey, goat and horse after the horsemeat scandal.

No horse DNA was found in the tests.

'Shocking' results
 
The Food Standards Agency (FSA) was alerted by the council on Monday.

Andrew Christie, Westminster City Council's director of children's services, said: "We are very concerned by the discovery that a contractor has fallen short of the high standards we demand. "We also understand and regret the upset that may have been caused to parents and children alike. "We are contacting schools, parents and faith group leaders and are offering to meet them to discuss their concerns."We have asked our contractor Chartwells to no longer use the meat supplier involved."The discovery of pork in these sausages came about because of extra tests Westminster City Council decided to carry out. "The results were all the more shocking given the assurances about the food we receive from our suppliers. I can assure parents we will keep testing our school meals."

Chartwells said the product was supplied by butchers Nigel Fredericks which had taken "full responsibility" for the breach in the supply chain.

A Defra spokesman said: "It is totally unacceptable if food labelled as halal has been found to contain pork.

"Today Defra, the FSA and the Department for Communities and Local Government met with organisations involved in halal and kosher food to discuss labelling and certification. "Food manufacturers and suppliers have a responsibility to make sure that the food they serve is what they say it is. The FSA is working with Westminster City Council to establish what happened."

Dr Shuja Shafi, deputy secretary general of the Muslim Council of Britain, said while the FSA had been swift in acting on the horse meat issue, it had been "lamentably slow in acting on halal meat regulation".

He added: "At a time of acute consumer anxiety, we would expect the government to be as robust in engaging with the public as it did during the horsemeat scandal."

In a separate incident, supermarket Aldi said the FSA had alerted it to the presence of horse meat in its Oakhurst Frozen Meatloaf.

A spokesman said: "The product is not part of our main range of everyday products and was stocked on a limited availability basis.

However, we have immediately withdrawn any of the remaining stock from our stores."

(14th March 2013)




SUPPLIER OF HALAL MEAT CONTAINING PORK DNA IS NAMED

(BBC News, dated 3rd February 2013)
www.bbc.co.uk

 

The company which supplied halal food found to contain traces of pork DNA to prisons has been named. McColgan's Quality Foods Limited was the source of "the very small number of halal savoury beef pastry products," said food distributor 3663. The County Tyrone company said it was co-operating with The Food Standards Agency.

3663 carried out tests on five products after suspecting the halal products may have contained horsemeat. A 3663 company spokeswoman said it was "shocked" to find pork DNA traces.

Under Islamic law, Muslims are required to eat halal food - and eating pork is strictly forbidden.

'Swift measures'

The 3663 spokeswoman added the affected products had been withdrawn from supply and were only distributed to prisons.

"The products in question are from one particular food manufacturer, McColgan's Quality Foods Limited, and have not been distributed to any other customer. All halal products from this manufacturer have been withdrawn"

3663 said initial tests were carried out on the products after the manufacturer's name appeared on a report by the Food Safety Authority of Ireland (FSAI) following an investigation which discovered horsemeat in some frozen burgers.

"3663 recognised a potential connection between a supplier of halal savoury pie products for the Ministry of Justice and one of their halal beef suppliers mentioned with the FSAI report," the company said.

3663 said horsemeat was not found but "disappointingly, we received evidence that within the products tested there were traces of porcine protein.

McGolgan's, based in County Tyrone since the mid-1970s, employs about 100 people at its site on the Dublin Road, Strabane. A spokesman for McColgan's said: "McColgan's has already taken swift measures to identify, isolate and withdraw all of the products which are supplied to the Prison Service while an investigation to determine the circumstances surrounding this deeply regrettable and unforeseen incident takes place.

"McColgan's is keen to stress that at no point has pork of any kind been included in the recipes of any of the Halal-certified products it supplies."

The Food Standards Agency is now investigating whether the contaminated products were distributed more widely across the UK.

Steve Wearne, from the Food Standards Agency, said it had called an urgent meeting "of a range of suppliers" on Monday where it would "stress again the responsibility of all food businesses to ensure the food that they sell contains what it says on the label".

Islamic law

Halal meat is defined as meat slaughtered by hand and blessed by the person doing the killing, however some Muslims believe a mechanised form is also now acceptable.

The editor of the Muslim News, Ahmed Versi, said: "This is very serious because no Muslim would ever eat pork meat - anything to do with pork - and it must be very distressing for those in prison who have been given this meat to realise they may have been eating food which was contaminated with pig."

(14th March 2013)


 

HORSEMEAT DNA FOUND IN LURGAN FIRM'S MEATLOAF
(BBC News, dated 13th March 2013)
www.bbc.co.uk

Tesco has withdrawn a line of frozen meatloaf made by County Armagh company Eurostock Foods.

The product made on the firm's premises outside Lurgan has been found to contain horsemeat.

Labelled as Tesco Simply Roast Meatloaf, the product was withdrawn after tests revealed it contained between 2% and 5% horsemeat.

Eurostock Foods said it was shocked and disappointed by the discovery and that it was launching an investigation.

In a statement the family-owned firm confirmed that product manufactured in its Northern Ireland plant had been found to contain equine DNA.

"The integrity of our supply chain is vital and we are working closely with our customers to try to establish the source of the contaminating material," the company said.

"Our investigations are ongoing and we remain in constant dialogue with all relevant parties."

In a statement Tesco said tests on 15 other lines from the Eurostock site were clear of horsemeat.

"Our investigation to thoroughly understand the source of the contamination has started and we will complete our investigation before deciding whether to continue using the supplier."

The supermarket said this was the fourth of its own brand products to be contaminated with horsemeat and that it had now been withdrawn.

Tesco also apologised to its customers.

(13th March 2013)


 

HORSEMEAT SCANDAL : MINISTER URGED TO REVEAL SODEXO SUPPLIER
(BBC News, dated 7th March 2013)
www.bbc.co.uk

The government has been urged to name a meat producer involved in supplying food containing horsemeat to schools and the armed forces.

French caterer Sodexo withdrew all frozen beef products from its UK operations last month, after some tested positive for horse DNA.

Labour's Mary Creagh said ministers should reveal Sodexo's supplier so UK companies could check their stock.

But the government said its disclosure could hamper investigations.

'Supplies at risk'
 
Speaking in the House of Commons, shadow environment secretary Ms Creagh said: "On 22 February, Sodexo announced it had found horse meat in a beef product and withdrew meat from schools in Gloucestershire, Southampton and Leicestershire, and the armed forces.

"Sodexo has refused publicly to name the products, the level of horse adulteration or the meat company which supplied it - thereby preventing other organisations from knowing whether their supplies are at risk."

Addressing Environment Secretary Owen Paterson directly, Ms Creagh insisted the government knew the identity of the meat supplier.
"Will you now name that company so the rest of the public sector can check their supplies?" she asked, adding Mr Paterson had a "duty" to reveal what he knew.

However, Mr Paterson insisted he had "discussed this issue yesterday with the chief executive of the Food Standards Agency (FSA), who is completely satisfied that the information required from Sodexo has been supplied".

"There is an investigation going on and in some of these cases it might lead to criminal prosecution," he told MPs.

Mr Paterson added the FSA had to be "guarded" about what information it released - "in case the investigations are impinged upon".

"This is a criminal conspiracy which covers 23 countries and it does not help the police to arrive at prosecutions if information is revealed," he said.

Tests expanded

On Wednesday, the FSA said members of the public were to be asked if they find low levels - or "trace contamination" - of horse and other species in beef products acceptable.

It comes after more than 6,000 tests for horse DNA were carried out in six weeks.

Tests for horsemeat in processed meat products have now been expanded to look at foodstuffs labelled as containing beef as a major ingredient.

(13th March 2013)


 

BIRDS EYE IDENTIFY IRISH PROCESSOR AS HORSEMEAT SOURCE
(BBC News, dated 5th March 2013)
www.bbc.co.uk

Frozen food giant Birds Eye has identified an Irish meat processor, QK Meats, as the source of horsemeat in three of its products.

QK Meats (www.sedpa.mc/index.html), based in Naas, County Kildare in the Irish Republic, has been suspended as a supplier to the firm.

In a statement, Birds Eye said their investigations had established that this was the one isolated source.

QK Meats said it had "never knowingly incorporated horsemeat into any of its beef products".

It added that as a result of Birds Eye's claims it has "launched a full investigation into its supply chain".

'Independent tests'
 
In late February, tests on Birds Eye spaghetti bolognese, 340g, and beef lasagne, 400g, were found to contain horse DNA. They were removed from the supermarket shelves.

In its statement on its website, addressed to customers and consumers, Birds Eye said: "Our investigation has shown that Frigilunch N.V. (who supplied these products to us) was itself supplied meat with horse in it by an Irish meat processor QK Meats.

"Frigilunch N.V.'s own independent tests and investigation have confirmed our findings. We have reported these findings to the Food Standards Agency and Frigilunch N.V. has taken immediate action and suspended them as a supplier of meat.

"All other meat suppliers to Frigilunch N.V. have been given the all clear through both Birds Eye's and Frigilunch N.V.'s separate testing programmes.

"You can rest assured that all other suppliers to Birds Eye have also been given the all clear."

Frigilunch N.V. is based in Belgium.

The BBC asked QK Meats for a response to Birds Eye's claims.

'Exemplary record'
 
In a statement, the County Kildare firm said: "The quality and safety of our products is of the utmost importance to QK Meats.

"The company has been operating for the past 25 years and has an exemplary record in terms of food quality and safety standards. QK Meats has never knowingly incorporated horsemeat into any of its beef products.

"Following the discovery of equine DNA in product allegedly supplied by QK Meats to Frigilunch NV, a supplier to Birds Eye, QK Meats has launched a full investigation into its supply chain," the Irish company added.

Birds Eye said they were introducing a "triple lock" DNA testing programme which means no minced beef product can reach the supermarket shelf without have been cleared at three stages of DNA testing.

A press officer for the Republic of Ireland's Department of Agriculture said an investigation into the issue of the mislabelling of meat in Ireland was ongoing.

She said the department was not in a position to comment further at this stage.

(13th March 2013)


 

HORSEMEAT SCANDAL : CHIEF OF IRISH BEEF COMPANY TO FACE MPS
(The Guardian, dated 4th March 2013 author Felicity Lawrence)
www.guardian.co.uk  [Option 1]

It is the Irish beef company that is at the heart of the British and Irish supply chains - and its owner, beef baron Larry Goodman, is no stranger to controversy.

His previous company was identified in a public inquiry in the Irish republic that examined major frauds in the industry and efforts to cover them up in the 1980s.

Paul Finnerty, the chief executive of Goodman's ABP food group, will on Tuesday give evidence to MPs on the environment, food and rural affairs committee - inquiring into the horsemeat scandal - after it emerged that the company supplied Tesco with beefburgers that turned out to be 29% horse.

An ABP factory in Tipperary supplied the meat that was made into fresh beef bolognese sauce for Asda that the supermarket found to contain 5% horse.

ABP's Scottish factory also supplied beef meatballs to Waitrose that the retailer found had up to 30% undeclared pork.

But it is not the first time a Goodman company has been in focus - an Irish public inquiry known as the beef tribunal was established to investigate allegations made in a World in Action programme and in Ireland's parliament that predecessor companies controlled by Goodman had passed off inferior beef trimmings as higher grade meat and falsified weights on meat boxes.

The 1,400 page tribunal report found that many of the allegations relating to fraudulent practices were substantiated.

Susan O'Keeffe, an Irish senator who was the journalist behind the World in Action investigation, believes there are some parallels with the horsemeat scandal.

"Secrecy in the food industry has driven us to this current crisis and it is as unacceptable today as it was 20 years ago.

"We cannot rely on paper trails for information because we know from experience that paper trails can be - and are - faked."

The tribunal established that Anglo-Irish Beef Processors (AIBP) - one of Goodman's previous meat processing companies - had been caught by customs officials making fraudulent claims for EU subsidies. Customs officers decided to thaw out the meat to check it more thoroughly and found that 15% of the beef was cheap trimmings. AIBP blamed a subcontractor at the time.

The most widely publicised aspect of the tribunal findings in relation to Goodman companies was its investigation into political influence. Goodman was an exporter of beef to Iraq to feed Saddam Hussein's army, but when Iraq invaded Kuwait and Saddam defaulted on the debt, Goodman's companies claimed about £100m from the Irish state.

It was alleged that Goodman had been favoured inappropriately in being underwritten with insurance paid for by the government, but the tribunal ruled that Charles Haughey, the then taoiseach, had not made decisions improperly, but instead because he believed it was in the national interest to support one of Ireland's most important economic sectors.

In fact Goodman's companies bought much of the beef sold to Iraq from other countries rather than Ireland. The tribunal found that 84% of the beef delivered to Iraq by AIBP in 1987-88 did not comply with written contracts that it should be halal. AIBP said Iraq knew it was getting different stocks and the matter was one of private law and not within the tribunal's scope.

Today's Irish government is also facing criticism that it was too slow to inform others and had remained close to its beef industry. Britain's environment secretary, Owen Paterson, has said his current Irish counterpart, Simon Coveney, only told the UK of the problem in January, rather than when it first became aware of it in November. Coveney's brother Patrick is chief executive of Greencore, an Irish food processor that made the Asda bolognese sauce found to contain 5% horse. Greencore, however, says its own tests on the same beef batch came up negative for horse DNA.

ABP said: "We are surprised that you should consider it appropriate to repeat allegations dating back to the 1990s. The tribunal found there was no institutionalised fraud or abuse in the AIBP factories. It also found there were no improper payments made to politicians. Not a single complaint was made to it by any customer of AIBP. The allegations which were made by the World in Action programme were not upheld by the tribunal report."

The company also said it was a victim, not a player, in the horsemeat adulteration.

(13th March 2013)

 

 


 

HORSEMEAT : FOUR NEW PRODUCTS TEST POSITIVE
(Sky News, dated 1st March 2013)
http://news.sky.com             [Option 1]

Tests on four beef products sold by Birds Eye, Taco Bell and catering supplier Brakes have been found to contain horsemeat.

Checks revealed contamination of Birds Eye Traditional Spaghetti Bolognese and Beef Lasagne, Taco Bell's ground beef and Brakes' spicy minced beef skewer, the Food Standards Agency said.

Ten tests on the four products returned results of more than 1% horsemeat, the FSA said, and all four have been withdrawn from sale.

Meanwhile, McDonald's said tests for horsemeat in its products had come back negative.

US-owned Tex-Mex restaurant chain Taco Bell said that it was "disappointed" to have discovered the horsemeat in tests it carried out on beef supplied to its UK restaurants by a sole European supplier.

"We immediately withdrew ground beef from sale in our restaurants, discontinued purchase of that meat, and contacted the Food Standards Agency with this information," it said in a statement.

"We would like to apologise to all of our customers, and we can reassure you that we are working hard to ensure that every precaution is being undertaken to guarantee that we are only supplied with products that meet the high standards we demand."

Birds Eye had already withdrawn the spaghetti bolognese, lasagne and a third ready meal, a shepherd's pie, from sale in Britain and the Republic of Ireland as a precaution after tests found 2% of horse DNA in a chilli con carne dish it sold in Belgium.

They are made by the same Belgian manufacturer, Frigilunch NV.

"No other Birds Eye products have tested positive for horse DNA, nor do they share the same supply chains as Frigilunch NV," the company said in a statement.

"Going forward we are introducing a new ongoing DNA testing programme that will ensure no minced beef meat product can leave our facilities without first having been cleared by DNA testing."

Brakes, which is based in Ashford, Kent, is the supplier for the House of Commons Catering Service and last month it withdrew its steak and kidney pie, beef and onion pie, steak and kidney suet pudding, and beef Italian meatballs as a precaution.

It also supplies pubs among 19,000 customers who buy around 48,000 cases of products containing beef every week.

It too said it was introducing new tests after the discovery, alongside 259 negative tests.

"Our tests also confirmed one positive equine DNA finding at between 1% and 10% on a Brakes spicy minced beef skewer and one positive test reported by a customer of our subsidiary division Creative Foods, on a lasagne manufactured exclusively for them," it said.

"Brakes have also segregated a frozen burger as a precaution after equine DNA at 1% was reported to the Food Standards Agency.

"Brakes and Creative Foods are very disappointed to have been let down by our respective suppliers and have sincerely apologised to our customers.

"As any responsible company, we have a duty of care to all our customers and the consumers they serve to guarantee the integrity of the products we purchase."

The discoveries were made in the third round of tests carried out since January.

A total of 19 products have now been confirmed to contain over 1% of horse DNA.

No tests to date on samples containing horse DNA have found the veterinary drug phenylbutazone, or bute, to be present.

Across the industry, a first wave of tests found horse meat in products including Aldi's special frozen beef lasagne and special frozen spaghetti bolognese, Co-op frozen quarter-pounder burgers, Findus beef lasagne, Rangeland's catering burger products, and Tesco Value frozen burgers and Value spaghetti bolognese.

A second wave of tests revealed contamination of Asda's chilled beef bolognese sauce, beef burgers, minced beef and halal minced beef sold by Sodexo, which supplies food to schools, care homes and the armed forces, and a Whitbread Group lasagne and beef burger.

The president and chief executive of McDonald's UK, Jill McDonald, said no horsemeat had been found in the fast-food company's products.

"We voluntarily provided samples of all beef burgers currently available on our menu to the Food Standards Agency (FSA) for their own tests.

"All tests, including our own, have now been completed and we can confirm that no horsemeat has been found in any of McDonald's products."

Earlier, the British Retail Consortium said test results for horsemeat in all minced beef lines used by the UK's largest supermarkets had revealed no new cases of contamination.

Some 95% of products sold by retailers have now been checked, it said, with the latest round of checks since February 22 including 361 tests on 103 products.

A total of 1,889 tests have been carried out by the trade organisation's members since January 20, with 0.3% of them finding contamination.

Meanwhile in Germany, authorities say they have found a carcinogenic substance in animal feed delivered to more than 3,500 farms - but stressed that any risk to humans was unlikely.

Aflatoxin B1 is a chemical produced by fungus that can grow on hay or grains and appear in the milk of animals that eat the mildewed feed.

The state agriculture ministry in Lower Saxony said the contamination originated from a shipment of corn from Serbia.

It said it did not believe there was any danger to consumers and there was no indication legal limits on aflatoxins in milk had been exceeded.


-------------------------------------------------------

HORSEMEAT SCANDAL : HOW HORSE MEAT HAS KEPT READY-MEALS PRICES LOW
(BBC News, dated 28th February 2013 author Matthew Wall)
www.bbc.co.uk

Rising beef prices and a public preference for cheap food were contributory factors leading to the horsemeat scandal, food industry experts say.

Beef and veal prices have risen by more than 45% across Europe over the past five years, according to the European Commission, while the global auction price for beef has topped $5,300 (£3,500) a tonne.

Horsemeat, by contrast, currently costs about $1,200 a tonne.

"It is clear that rising beef prices and the relative cheapness of horsemeat have led some people to see the potential for making big profits through fraud," says Peter Hardwick, head of trade development at Eblex, the English beef and sheep industry body.

Mr Hardwick believes the financial pressure on meat producers, who operate at profit margins of 5% and below compared with double-digit margins for retailers, may have also contributed to the problem.

"There isn't cheap beef to be found anywhere," he says. "But we still believe that ready meals can be made as cheaply as they always have been."

Cheaper food
  Sales of chilled ready meals have been growing by nearly 10% a year
Despite soaring beef prices, ready meals containing beef mince have not risen in price accordingly, even though the meat is their most expensive ingredient.

For example, the average chilled ready meal costs £2.31, up just 4% over the past three years, roughly in line with food inflation, according to research from retail analyst Kantar Worldpanel.

Meanwhile, our love affair with the ready meal continues apace. Almost nine out of 10 UK households now buy them, despite a study published in the British Medical Journal in December finding that not one of 100 meals tested fully complied with World Health Organisation nutritional guidelines.

The cheapness and convenience of chilled ready meals in particular has led to sales growing almost 10% per year over the past three years, with spending rising from £2.1bn to £2.5bn.

Frozen meals are a bit less popular, but spending on these has also risen, from £655m to £710m over the same period.

To put this into context, we now spend £74bn a year on food, yet spending on food and non-alcoholic drinks as a proportion of household expenditure has fallen dramatically from 24% in 1963 to just 9% in 2012, according to the Office for National Statistics.

How can we explain this apparent paradox?

"Food is cheaper in real terms than it has ever been," says Richard Dodd, spokesman for the British Retail Consortium (BRC). "But it has become so affordable because we've become much more efficient in agriculture, production and and retailing.

"Yes, we spend much less of our disposable income on food these days, but this is related to rising incomes and the increased affordability of food."

Intense supermarket competition has educated the British shopper to expect cheap food, says Richard Stevenson, technical manager of the National Federation of Meat and Food Traders, the body representing most High Street butchers.

More than 90% of British consumers still consider price an important factor when shopping for food, according to Kantar Worldpanel, compared with 73% who take health into consideration.

Just 32% of shoppers consider whether the product has been sourced through fair trade and only 22% care whether or not it is organic.

DNA Tests

Tesco, Asda, Co-op, Morrisons, Lidl, Iceland and Aldi have all withdrawn burgers and beef mince ready meals as a result of the scandal. Manufacturers such as Findus and Birds Eye have taken similar steps.

Yet, the Food Standards Agency says more than 99% of 3,634 tests carried on processed minced beef products contained no horse DNA at or above the 1% level. The 13 products that did have already been withdrawn from sale.

The BRC says that its member retailers have completed more than 90% of their tests, and that out of 1,500 completed since 20 January, only six proved positive.

"I'm encouraged by these updated results which confirm how few products have been involved and that any that were have already been removed," says BRC director general Helen Dickinson.

New DNA testing regimes notwithstanding, the intense financial pressure on the meat and food processing industries is expected to only increase while shoppers continue to expect cheap, convenient processed foods made from raw ingredients whose prices continue to rise in the global marketplace.


------------------------------------------------------

HORSEMEAT SCANDAL : FARMERS "MUST NOT BEAR COST OF TIGHTER REGULATION"
(Guardian, dated 27th February 2013 author Sarah Butler and Fiona Harvey)
www.guardian.co.uk    [Option 1]

Hard-pressed farmers have warned that they could be driven out of business if they are forced to pay for tighter regulation and testing as a result of the horsemeat scandal.

"Profit margins on beef are wafer thin and not sufficient to bear additional costs," said Charles Sercombe, chairman of the National Farmers Union's (NFU) livestock board, at the union's annual conference in Birmingham.

He spoke after Philip Clarke, chief executive of Tesco, told the conference that the UK's biggest supermarket would source more meat in the UK and step up scrutiny of suppliers, including installing video cameras at their factories.

That prompted a string of farmers to warn that they could not cope with extra red tape as a result. One farmer said: "That cost cannot come back to us. We are not making any money out of the system and if it comes back to us you won't have beef, chicken, lamb or pork producers."

Farmers' concerns were raised as neither retailers nor the government have made clear who might bear the cost of tougher regulation after horsemeat was found in a number of ready meals labelled as beef. In recent years farmers have been forced to pay more of the cost of regulation including bovine TB testing and stricter regimes on dead animals introduced after previous food scandals including BSE.

The environment secretary, Owen Paterson, told the conference the horsemeat scandal could be a "fantastic opportunity" for British farmers. He said consumers had had "a horrible shock" from the mislabelling of horsemeat as beef, which had "shaken confidence" but raised interest in local produce.

"British food should be recognised for its rigorous traceability and standards," he said. "Our farmers and producers must not be tarnished as a result of the fraudulent activities of criminals."

Paterson said the European Union, at his urging, had brought forward to this summer discussions on how to label food with its country of origin to help shoppers make informed choices. Many farmers have been frustrated that current rules mean meat from other European countries can be labelled as British if it is merely packaged or processed in the UK, which they say undercuts their premium products and misleads consumers who want to buy British.

Tesco offered the first sign of a potential boost for British farmers as it pledged that it would buy all its fresh chicken from the UK by July and that frozen and ready meals would follow suit in future. It already sources all its beef in the UK and Ireland and wants to buy more pork and lamb closer to home.

"As market leader in the UK it is our responsibility to lead the way out of this crisis," Clarke said.

He admitted that Tesco had not always treated its suppliers well and promised a "root and branch review" of its supply chain with the help of external experts.

Farmers welcomed the move and Tesco's promise to sign longer-term contracts with farmers that would give them more security.

However, Tesco is playing catch-up as the supermarket currently sources 30% of its chicken outside the UK. It trails its rivals Sainsbury's and Waitrose, which already source all their own-label chicken in Britain, while Morrisons buys the majority of its chicken in the UK apart from some sold under its cheaper Hemsley range introduced in November.

Peter Kendall, president of the NFU, said a survey carried out by the organisation had found more than 86% of people wanted to buy traceable food produced on British farms. About eight in 10 people polled said they wanted supermarkets to sell more food from British farms.

"Farmers have been furious about what has happened," he said. "We now need the supermarkets to stop scouring the world for the cheapest products they can find and start sourcing high quality, traceable product from farmers here at home."


-----------------------------------------------------------

WILTSHIRE SCHOOL MEAL SUPPLIER HALTS PRODUCTS AFTER EQUINE DNA FOUND IN FROZEN BEEF
(Wiltshire Times, dated 27th February 2013 author Craig Jones)
www.wiltshiretimes.co.uk [Option 1]

Sodexo, a catering company which supplies food to around 20 schools in Wiltshire, has withdrawn their frozen beef products after traces of horse meat were found in some samples.
 
The company carried out tests on products it receives from their supplies with equine DNA being found.
 
This is the latest development in the horse meat saga which has seen Findus, Birdseye, Tesco, the Co-op, Lidl, Iceland and Aldi all withdraw some of their frozen products from shelves.
 
A spokesperson said: "We demanded written assurances from across our supply chain that the products we purchase did not contain horse meat, and additionally implemented an internal sampling programme.
 
"Despite repeated guarantees from our suppliers, our sampling has identified frozen beef products which tested positive and this situation is totally unacceptable."
 
Sodexo have informed the Food Standards Agency and will be carrying out their own internal investigation.
 
Sodexo business, Tillery Valley Foods, which provides meals for the healthcare sector, hasn't had any products affected.
 
Wiltshire Council doesn't provide the region's school meals as individual schools organise their own catering contracts with outside businesses.

Wiltshire Councillor Keith Humphries, cabinet member for Public Health and Protection Services, said: "This is a very fast moving situation and we don't know what is coming next. The Sodexo discovery is just the latest in a growing line of companies involved in this big issue."
 
Following the first discovery of horse meat, the FSA launched an inquiry into the issue ordering food companies to carry out tests on all processed beef products, specifically asking some local authorities to carry out tests, on products produced in their areas, with Wiltshire Council not being asked.
 
Cllr Humphries said: "Other than the supermarket chains we haven't had any issues and I think we are just playing a waiting game at the minute because given the magnitude of the situation, there might well be traces found locally at some stage in the future, we just don't know

 

--------------------------------------------------------------

HORSEMEAT : WELSH COUNCILS WITHDRAW MEALS OVER CONTAMINATION FEAR
(BBC News, dated 27th February 2013)
Full article : www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-21599684

Six councils have withdrawn certain meat products from schools and care homes amid fears of horsemeat.

Welsh Bros Ltd, which supplies several Welsh councils, said a sample of meat had "potentially" tested positive.

Swansea council said its own test had found horsemeat, while Bridgend, Cardiff, Carmarthenshire, Pembrokeshire and the Vale of Glamorgan all said they were taking action as a precaution.

Welsh Bros said it was shocked and had been let down by a non-Welsh firm.

Swansea said it had removed minced beef from its menus after its own independent tests showed the presence of horsemeat.

The council is part of a consortium of local authorities supplied by Welsh Bros Ltd, of Newport, south Wales.

Earlier on Wednesday, several other councils said they were withdrawing certain meat products as a precaution.

Pembrokeshire council said it was withdrawing all mince products but said it had received assurances from its other suppliers that meats were traceable.

Cardiff council then followed suit saying it had decided to withdraw all beef food products sourced from Welsh Bros from all its schools, leisure centres, care homes and other council catering outlets.

It said no products had generated a positive result so far but "intensive sampling and testing" would continue.

Bridgend then said it had stopped using frozen mince beef from the supplier, followed by precautionary action by Carmarthenshire and the Vale of Glamorgan.

Alan Heycock, managing director of Welsh Bros, said: "We do our best to promote quality British products". He said they had been let down by a non-Welsh company, adding: "We received an e-mail about this last night. A test came back positive. We haven't seen the certificate yet. "This is all under investigation with trading standards now and we are waiting for further information".The company said it believed it was an isolated incident. The meat involved was distributed in December 2012. "We're very busy contacting our customers now and letting them know," added Mr Heycock.

The company later issued a formal statement saying a sample of meat had "potentially" tested positive for horsemeat but the company had taken the decision to inform customers and withdraw the product immediately.

The statement said: "The batch affected was produced nearly three months ago. Welsh Bros Foods did have a clear test result for frozen free flow minced beef on 17.01.13. We submitted these samples when the horsemeat scandal first broke in January.

"We have since submitted further samples which we are still awaiting test results for.

"Welsh Bros has been provided with test results from other authorities who have tested more recent batches of our free flow minced beef and these have been reported as being clear.

"We therefore believe at this stage that this is an isolated incident.

Further tests
 
"We have today issued a withdraw notice with the Food Standards Agency for frozen free flow minced beef produced between 13.12.12 which was the pack date of the suspect test and 17.01.13 which is the date we achieved our clear test result."

Newport council said its trading standards department was working with Welsh Bros, which is based in the city, and investigations into the source of the contamination were ongoing.

The council said Newport schools did not use the supplier but inquiries were taking place into whether council care homes had purchased the product.

In a separate development, Pembrokeshire council said it had also been made aware that frozen beef products supplied to Sodexho, which provides catering services to a private finance initiative school in Pembroke Dock, had also tested positive for horsemeat.

Sodexho has had a private catering contract with the school since it opened. Its meat was not bought through the Welsh Purchasing Consortium (WPC) which comprises the 16 local authorities in south, mid and west Wales, including Pembrokeshire.

Sodexho has withdrawn all frozen beef products from its UK catering operations.

Caerphilly council, which manages purchasing for the WPC, said it was contacting the other councils to see if they were affected by the horsemeat discovery.

Ceredigion council, although a member of the consortium, said it had never purchased any meat products from Welsh Bros of Newport. The authority said Castell Howell Ltd supplied all council establishments with fresh meat.

Blaenau Gwent said Welsh Bros did not supply its premises - nor those of Torfaen or Monmouthshire.

The Welsh Local Government Association (WLGA), the body that represents councils in Wales, said the fact the contamination had been identified was "testimony to the rigorous checks and tests that local government is conducting and demanding of its complex supply chain".

"The current priority for individual local authorities is to focus on those manufacturers that have been supplied by businesses implicated as potential sources of contamination," said WLGA chief executive Steve Thomas.

Conservative rural affairs spokeswoman Antoinette Sandbach AM called for quicker action by ministers to reassure the public about the integrity of food products in the wake of the horsemeat scandal.

"It is absolutely vital that the government responds to this swiftly and works closely with council officials and the FSA," she said.

Meanwhile, Alun Davies, deputy minister for agriculture, launched a new nationwide campaign promoting Welsh beef and lamb on Wednesday.

"What consumers want is clear labelling, so that consumers can make informed choices on their food purchases," he said.

"This is what the campaign aims to achieve; a simple statement of fact that if shoppers look for the Welsh beef, Welsh lamb and EU protected geographical indication (PGI) logos then that is what they will get."


-------------------------------------------------

HORSEMEAT FOUND IN HALAL BURGERS AT LANCASHIRE SCHOOLS
(Lancashire Telegraph, dated 26th February 2013 author Bill Jacobs)
www.lancashiretelegraph.co.uk/news/blackburndarwenhyndburnribble/10251765  [Option 1]


Processed beef meals have been dropped from all Lancashire County Council schools after horse meat was found in halal beefburgers.
 
It is the second time horse DNA has been found in a beef product fed to children in schools supplied by the authority in two weeks.
 
Last night, as county leader Geoff Driver claimed decisive action had been taken over the 'frankly appalling' discovery, the Lancashire Council of Mosques called for him to resign.
 
They warned Muslim pupils to take packed lunches instead of eating any school dinners.
 
The discovery affected halal frozen beefburgers supplied to four unnamed secondary schools in the county.
 
It followed the announcement on February 14 that tests had found horse DNA in a pre-prepared cottage pie supplied to 47 of the authority's primary schools .
 
Coun Driver said the discovery of the contamination came because the county was one of the few councils in the country able and willing to properly test its frozen beef products.
 
All the affected schools have been contacted and informed.

Coun Driver said: "I hope that parents and children can be reassured by the advice that this isn't a food safety issue. However it is frankly appalling that we have found horsemeat in two products which were supposedly 100 per cent beef.

"These products came from manufacturers who not only carry all the correct certification but who also recently provided us with written assurances their products did not contain horsemeat."
 
Blackburn councillor Salim Mulla, chairman of the Lancashire Council of Mosques and Blackburn with Darwen, said he was extremely angry at the discovery.
 
He said the authority should never have dropped Blackburn-based halal supplier KQF Foods in October for four new suppliers which did not meet the Council of Mosques procedures for certifying meat in accordance with Islamic Law.
 
Thousands of Muslim schoolchildren in 68 Lancashire County Council schools, including 45 in Burnley, Pendle, Hyndburn and Rossendale and five schools in Blackburn and Darwen, are supplied with halal products through the county's central catering unit.
 
Coun Mulla said: "This is shameful. It is a disgrace.

"I think Coun Driver should resign and heads should roll among the officers in the county council.
 
"We cannot trust what they say. We warned about this in October when they dropped KQF and asked them to ensure their suppliers followed our code of Halal practice which ensures a clear supply chain from slaughterhouse to plate. They ignored us.
 
"They have let down not only Muslim schoolchildren but children of all faiths in Lancashire by supplying meals that are contaminated with horsemeat.
 
"I shall now be recommending all Muslim families to send their children to school with a packed lunch."
 
Pendle councillor Eileen Ansar backed him saying: "I am disgusted. We warned the county council about this in October. After they found the horsemeat in cottage pies two weeks ago they should have acted.
 
"I think Coun Driver should consider resigning. We can't trust a word the county council says about what is in their school meals."
 
Coun Driver said: "I share the anger of Muslim parents. We all have a right to trust that the food we eat is what we believe it to be.
 
"However this issue goes beyond the supply of halal meat and affects the processed food industry as a whole.
 
"There is absolutely nothing at all to suggest that had we followed the Lancashire Council of Mosques' demands this could have been avoided.
 
"We were forced to change halal food suppliers last year precisely because the supplier we previously used, which was insisted upon by the LCM, failed to provide adequate assurances about the source and shelf life of its products."
 
Hanif Daudhwala, a Halal expert at the LCM, said: "There is some doubt as to whether horsemeat is Halal or not but we have no doubt that any horsemeat in these burgers will not have been prepared in accordance with Islamic law. This would not have happened if the county had kept KQF as its supplier of halal meat."
 
KQF of George West Street, Blackburn, had no comment to make.

The four companies now supplying halal meat to the county council are accredited by the Universal Halal Agency, Halal Food Authority or the European Halal Development Agency.
 

-------------------------------------------------

FROZEN BURGER SALES PLUNGE 43% AFTER HORSEMENT SCANDAL
(Guardian, dated 26th February 2013 author Simon Neville)
www.guardian.co.uk    [Option 1]

Sales of frozen burgers have plunged 43% and frozen ready meals have fallen 13% after the horsemeat scandal, although supermarkets worst-hit by the revelations have not lost customers, the latest data reveals.

The fall in burger sales was recorded during the four weeks to the end of 17 February, according to Kantar Worldpanel, which suggested the decline had affected shoppers' individual habits rather than where they shop.

Edward Garner, director at Kantar Worldpanel, said: "The issue has so far only affected the performance of individual markets rather than where consumers are choosing to shop.

"For the four weeks ending 17 February, frozen burger sales were down by 43% and frozen ready meals declined by 13%, clearly demonstrating a change in shopping habits."

The removal of hundreds of thousands of products from shelves is also likely to impact on sales.

Tesco remains the biggest supermarket, with a 29.7% market share over the past 12 weeks, although that is down from 30.1% during the same period last year. However, the dip is thought to be because of heavy discounting in 2012, rather than shoppers being turned off by the up to 100% horsemeat found in its lasagne.

Sainsbury's is the only retailer in the Big Four to increase share in this period, beating the market with a 4.6% growth rate. Morrisons is the only retailer to post a sales decline, down -1.3%, despite being one of the least-affected supermarkets in the horsemeat scandal. Morrisons also suffered due to a lack of convenience stores and online presence.

Waitrose and Aldi both increased their market share during the period, despite pork being found in the former's frozen beef meatballs, and horsemeat found in the latter's bolognese and lasagnes.

Garner added:"Waitrose and Aldi deliver all-time record shares this period of 4.8% and 3.3% respectively, indicating that market polarisation and the 'two nations' consumer climate continues.

"Iceland records 10.1%, growth confirming that the frozen food category as a whole remains robust."

The total grocery market is growing at an annual rate of 3.7%, which lags behind grocery price inflation of 4.3%. This confirms the continued pressure on shoppers who are using coping strategies to reduce the effect of inflation on their spending.


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HORSEMEAT FOUND IN IKEA MEATBALLS IN CZECH REPUBLIC
(BBC News, dated 25th February 2013)
www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-europe-21569645

Ikea has withdrawn meatballs from sale in 14 European countries after tests in the Czech Republic found traces of horsemeat in a batch made in Sweden.

Meatballs from the same batch had been sold in many states, including the UK, France and Portugal, the retailer said.

Swiss food giant Nestle meanwhile said it had found horse DNA in meat from the Spanish supplier, Servocar.

The discoveries come as EU agriculture ministers meet for talks expected to focus on the growing horsemeat scandal.

Since the first horsemeat was discovered in frozen meals and burgers in the UK and Ireland last month, traces have been found in meat products across Europe.

###'Testing like mad'
 
Ikea's announcement on Monday came after the Czech State Veterinary Administration said horsemeat had been found in 1kg (2.2lb) packs of meatballs manufactured in Sweden and shipped to the Czech Republic for sale in Ikea stores there.

A total of 760kg (1,675lb) of the meatballs have been intercepted and stopped from reaching Czech shelves, according to the Associated Press.

Horsemeat had also been found in beef burgers imported from Poland, the Czech State Veterinary Administration said.

In a posting on its Swedish Facebook page, Ikea first confirmed it was halting all sales of meatballs at its stores in the country.

Later, the company announced that meatballs from the affected batch of meatballs had also been sent to Ikea stores in Slovakia, Hungary, France, the UK, Portugal, the Netherlands, Belgium, Spain, Italy, Greece, Cyprus and the Republic of Ireland.

How does meat get from processing plant to hungry mouth?
Ikea insisted that it had not found any horsemeat during in-house tests on its own range of food products, carried out two weeks ago, but said new tests would now be carried out.

"We do not tolerate any other ingredients than the ones stipulated in our recipes or specifications, secured through set standards, certifications and product analysis by accredited laboratories," a statement said.

Also on Monday, the Spanish agriculture ministry announced that traces of horsemeat had been found in beef pasta meals produced by brands owned by Nestle.

A statement on the Swiss company's website said it was withdrawing six "La Cocinera" products and one "Buitoni" product from shops in Spain, and that it had halted all deliveries from the meat supplier, Servocar.

Nestle said testing continued across its products, a week after it announced that it was withdrawing two types of beef pasta meals from supermarkets in Italy and Spain which had been supplied by a company in Germany, H J Schypke.

A Nestle spokesman told the BBC the discovery of horsemeat in the products of a second supplier was not an indication that the problem was widespread across the company, but because "we are testing like mad".

'Concrete action'
 
The labelling of the origin of meat and the traceability of the products will be high on the agenda at the EU ministers' meeting.

Europe's food retailers depend on a complex network of brokers, cold stores and meat-cutting plants around the continent from which to source the ingredients wherever they are cheapest, says the BBC's Christian Fraser, in Paris.

The evidence of the past few weeks shows that national food safety authorities have failed to identify a problem in the supply chain over a significant period of time, he adds.

While the original agenda of the EU meeting included support for rural communities and the common fisheries policy, it is expected ministers will now try to come up with measures to tackle the horsemeat scandal.

Those could include a pan-European labelling project for frozen food, a move which has the backing of France and Germany.

Paris and Berlin both want compulsory labelling and traceability.

UK Environment Secretary Owen Paterson said on Friday that he would "continue to insist on concrete, co-ordinated action right across Europe when I meet European agriculture ministers on Monday".

But a workable deal could be difficult, our correspondent says. The discovery of horsemeat comes in long, complex and poorly regulated supply chains in the meat industry.

At least a dozen countries are involved in the horsemeat affair, which implicates some of the biggest meat processors and food producers.

Italy joined the list on Saturday, reporting horsemeat in some lasagne products.

On Friday, Germany's consumer affairs ministry announced it had found traces of horse DNA in 67 of 830 food products tested.

Irish authorities on Friday suspended production at one processing plant after horsemeat was found labelled as beef.


--------------------------------------------------
HORSEMENT SCANDAL : EU MINISTERS WANT FASTER ACTION ON MEAT LABELLING
(Guardian, dated 24th February 2013 author James Meikle)
www.guardian.co.uk [option 1]


Owen Paterson, the environment secretary, will be among ministers from across the EU pressing on Monday for speedier action on introducing country-of-origin labelling for processed beef and other meat products as they struggle to get a grip on the horsemeat scandal.

On Saturday the French president, François Hollande, joined the growing calls for more traceability at European level and critics have complained that the UK coalition government had been dragging its feet on the issue before the crisis began last month. Country of origin and slaughter for cattle must already be included on labels for fresh and frozen beef but the European commission is paving the way to extend that to other meats and ingredients in processed food. However, a report on implementing tougher rules is not expected until the end of the year. This month, the Commons environment, food and rural affairs select committee said UK ministers had been caught "flat-footed" by the scandal, which has been blamed on mislabelling and criminal fraud, and criticised them for having sought UK exemption from some EU rules.

This would allow minced meat sold in Britain to have a higher fat and collagen content than permitted in other EU member states and remove the requirement for loose meat products to declare the amount of meat they contained. "This is not the time for the government to be proposing reducing the labelling standards applied to British food", said the committee.

Glenis Willmott, Labour MEP for the East Midlands and the party's leader in the European parliament, said last week that in 2011 UK ministers had opposed plans backed by the parliament for more comprehensive country of origin labelling. This had forced MEPs "into a much weaker compromise" as the coalition tried "to kick the issue into the long grass".

She said: "It is interesting that Mr Paterson, one of the most Eurosceptic of ministers, is now advocating EU legislation as a solution to the current crisis. It is simply common sense that a problem in the meat supply chain … needs EU-wide measures to combat it. But it is precisely this kind of EU regulation that Eurosceptics deem 'red tape from Brussels'. In 2011 the UK government said my plans would be too difficult to put into practice because the meat supply chain was too complex. We have now seen what the complexities of the industry can hide."

--------------------------------------------------

HORSEMEAT SCANDAL : SUPERMARKETS HAVE FAILED TO CHECK MEAT SUPPLIERS, MPs TOLD
(Telegraph, dated 24th February 2013 author Rowena Mason)
www.telegraph.co.uk   [Option 1]


Inspections of supermarket meat suppliers are a "disgrace" and in need of "total review" to stop more scandals such as the horse meat crisis, a whistleblower has told MPs.

Paul Smith, a retired auditor of food safety standards, has given evidence to Parliament that there is a "massive failure" of retailers to monitor their suppliers and have their meat inspected at "appropriate intervals".

Yet another meat supplier, Sodexo, admitted on Friday that there may have been horse meat in products sold to schools, hospitals and the Armed Forces.

Numerous supermarkets have had to withdraw processed beef from their shelves after discovering it contained horse in a scandal that has stretched across Europe.

Retailers have blamed their suppliers for giving them adulterated beef with misleading labelling. But in a statement to the Commons environment committee, Mr Smith, a meat auditor of 40 years' experience, cast doubt on the system used by supermarkets.

Mr Smith accused supermarkets of having an "incestuous and inappropriate" relationship with food auditors, who are responsible for issuing a Global Standard for Food Safety to meat suppliers.

He said the meat industry was effectively allowed to pick its own "policemen", who then had incentives to give top marks to retain their business. The current auditing of meat sold by supermarkets "has never worked and cannot work", Mr Smith added.

"The whole system is a disgrace and in need of total review," he told the cross-party group of MPs.

Mr Smith said he spoke out to help bring about "appropriate changes so as to ensure the horse meat incident and related incidents do not reoccur".

The Government is under growing pressure to get the horse meat scandal under control since it was first discovered in Ireland in January. The news that an unknown number of schools, hospitals and care homes may have been supplied with horse meat is a fresh blow for Owen Paterson, the Environment Secretary.

The Telegraph reported on Saturday that even Britain's food watchdog, the Food Standards Agency, has yet to be given details about the potential scale of the contamination of meat handled by Sodexo.

Last week, the agency released a second batch of test results submitted by the food industry. To date, one in 80 beef products tested has been found to contain horse meat.

Mary Creagh, the shadow environment secretary, will today ask an urgent question in the Commons about the crisis. Last night, she said it was "outrageous" that officials on Friday did not appear to have been told which Sodexo products were potentially affected.


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BIRDS EYE WITHDRAWS READY MEALS AFTER HORSE DNA FOUND IN CHILLI
(Guardian, dated 22nd February 2013 author James Meikle)
www.guardian.co.uk [Option 1]


Schools in Scotland were told on Friday not to serve frozen beefburgers, while in Wales some supplies to schools in seven local authorities have been withdrawn, as the horsemeat crisis continued to roll on.

The move in Scotland came after a frozen beefburger from a school kitchen in North Lanarkshire tested positive for horse DNA, while in Wales it was discovered that some burgers delivered to schools had been made at the Burger Manufacturing Company (BMC), in Builth Wells, one of the most recent producers to be caught up in the growing scandal.

The developments came as Birds Eye withdrew three beef ready-meals from sale in the UK and Ireland as a precaution after 2% horse DNA was found in chilli con carne made for the Belgian market.

Local authorities in Scotland were advised to "place a hold" on the use of the products following the discovery in a burger at a North Lanarkshire school kitchen.

The measure also applies to council leisure facilities and some social care establishments.

Scotland's rural affairs secretary, Richard Lochhead, said it was "really unacceptable that any school child in Scotland should be eating a burger which has got horse meat in it … Of the thousands of tests, this is the first positive result in our schools but it is one too many. No company should be supplying our schools with food with beef products that contain traces of horse meat."

News of the discovery in North Lanarkshire emerged on Thursday night. The school where the positive test was recorded has not been named.

A local authority spokesman in Lanarkshire said: "The council has notified the Food Standards Agency, as it is required to do, and investigations are continuing.

"Our investigations are focusing on the use of frozen burger supplies during the past three months, the maximum length of time these would be held in storage."

Meanwhile, councils across the country were advised to take frozen beef burgers off the menu as a precaution. The move was confirmed by procurement agency Scotland Excel, which deals with contracts on a national basis.

In Wales, Monmouthshire, Blaenau Gwent, Merthyr Tydfil, Rhondda Cynon Taf, Caerphilly, Powys and Neath Port Talbot councils were affected by the BMC incident. Their school burgers were provided by a food distribution company called Holdsworth Foods , which withdrew BMC burgers as a precaution. Powys council said only five high schools had been affected; Blaenau Gwent said six schools; and Caerphilly said it had withdrawn the product from all primary schools.

James Trevithick, of Holdsworth Foods, said to his knowledge no food it supplied to schools in Wales or England had tested positive so far. It was conducting its own tests.

In England, Lancashire council last week reported horsemeat DNA in cottage pies made by Oak Farm Foods and a number of local authorities have withdrawn beef products from school menus pending testing.

Birds Eye withdrew Traditional Spaghetti Bolognese 340g, Shepherd's Pie 400g and Beef Lasagne 400g lines, because they were made by the same Belgian company Frigilunch, responsible for the chili con carne with equine DNA.

Birds Eye's parent company, Iglo Foods Group, said it had conducted tests on all beef products Europe-wide and only the chili con carne tested positive.

The latest in the apparently non-stop series of revelations of horsemeat in food across Europe came as the Food Standards Agency prepared to publish its latest list of results from horse DNA tests by major retailers and caterers. Last week there were 29 positive results from seven products which were revealed before the full results of 2,501 tests were reported.

Birds Eye apologised to consumers for the "unacceptable" incident in a statement on its website. "The withdrawn products will not be replaced on supermarkets shelves until we have finished our investigations and have complete confidence in this supplier," it said.

The company, like many others shaken by the scandal, has introduced an ongoing DNA testing programme to "help us ensure that we continue to reach the standards that all our consumers expect from our products".


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HORSEMEAT SCANDAL : SCHOOLS CATERER SUSPENDS ALL FROZEN BEEF PRODUCTS
(Guardian, dated 22nd February 2013 authors James Meikle and Peter Newlands)
www.guardian.co.uk  [Option 1]

One of the largest private catering businesses in Britain, which provides food for public services including the armed forces, schools, care homes and prisons, has withdrawn all frozen beef products across most of its business following the discovery of horse DNA in one of the samples it had tested.

Sodexo, which boasts of working on 2,300 sites in the UK and Ireland, declined to name the supplier of the beef product which tested positive for horse DNA and would not say if it was a British or Irish manufacturer. The Food Standards Agency (FSA) said the Sodexo lines affected included beef burgers, minced beef and halal minced beef.

Birds Eye also announced the "precautionary" withdrawal of three lines on Friday.

The discoveries are likely to stoke the political storm surrounding the horsemeat scandal, which shows no sign of abating.Labour has repeatedly expressed concern over the fact that retailers and manufacturers appear to be reporting results more quickly and fully than caterers. The catering at Ascot Racecourse, which hosts Royal Ascot - attended each year by the Queen - is run by Sodexo Prestige, according to the firm's website.

The Department for Education called the incident "a serious and unacceptable breach of trust".

Schools and councils were responsible for their food contracts, it said. "We expect all schools to ensure they have rigorous procurement procedures in place. If headteachers have any concerns they should contact the FSA, their caterers or local authority immediately."

The Department of Health in England added: "It is unacceptable that anyone should have been eating meat that is not what it says on the label. All hospitals should be assuring themselves and patients that the food they are serving is what they say it is."

Seodexo, which is a French company, supplied three private prisons, Forest Bank in Manchester, Bronzefield in Ashford, Surrey, and Peterborough, said the Ministry of Justice.

In a statement, Sodexo said the horse DNA was "unacceptable" given "repeated assurances from our suppliers". It added: "We felt the only appropriate response was to withdraw not only this product but all frozen beef products. We will only re-admit into our catering operations products that have affirmatively passed DNA testing, pursuant to laboratory test criteria.

"We have notified the FSA of our findings and will assist fully in its investigation. We have also launched our own investigation to understand how this regrettable situation arose."

The firm said its Tillery Valley Foods business supplying the health sector was unaffected.

Mary Creagh, Labour's environment spokesman, said: "The government must ensure that catering firms speed up their tests and tell the public what they are testing, so that we know just how far this horsemeat scandal has spread through our communities. It is deeply worrying that it has taken Sodexo, who supply schools, hospitals and the armed forces, several weeks to test for and discover horse in its beef products.

"Councils, schools and hospitals must have total confidence in their meat suppliers - and the government's advice that they should simply ask big catering companies for reassurance is totally ineffective."

Sodexo describes itself as "the UK's largest event caterer and provider of corporate hospitality packages". The FSA reported that six products had tested positive for DNA in the second round for industry-led tests for horsemeat DNA. It said all these cases had already been reported. The figures mean that, in all, 13 products have returned positive from a total of 3,634 results reported.

Retailers say they have completed about 90% of tests; manufacturers, caterers and wholesalers indicated they had completed around 80% of their tests. This included, said the agency, all the major suppliers to schools, hospitals and other public institutions.

Earlier Birds Eye withdrew three beef ready-meals from sale in the UK and Ireland - Traditional Spaghetti Bolognese 340g, Shepherd's Pie 400g and Beef Lasagne 400g lines - because they were made by the Belgian company Frigilunch, responsible for a chili con carne made for the Belgian market containing 2% equine DNA.

Schools in Scotland have been told not to serve frozen beefburgers after one tested positive in a North Lanarkshire school kitchen, while in Wales supplies to some schools in seven local authorities have been withdrawn because they were linked to the Burger Manufacturing Company (BMC) in Powys, Wales. Samples taken there had tested positive for horse DNA in burgers using meat from Farmbox Meats near Aberystwyth, a plant raided by police and FSA officials investigating the horsemeat scandal on Tuesday last week.

In Ireland, the government has suspended all operations at B&F Meats in Co Tipperary, saying it had despatched horsemeat to a customer in the Czech Republic via a UK-based trader, not named by authorities, using a label in Czech which, when translated, referred to beef.

 

-------------------------------------------------

Q & A : HORSEMEAT SCANDAL
(BBC News, dated 20th February 2013)
www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-21335872

The discovery of horsemeat in processed beef products sold by a number of UK supermarket chains last month has resulted in a series of product recalls and thrown the spotlight on the food industry's supply chain. It has also inspired a stricter food-testing regime across Europe. So how did the scandal unfold and what is being done?

How did the scandal emerge?

Irish food inspectors announced in mid-January that they had found horsemeat in frozen beefburgers made by firms in the Irish Republic and the UK, and sold by a number of UK supermarket chains, including Tesco, Iceland, Aldi and Lidl.

Since then, a growing number of stores and companies across Europe, including Findus and Nestle, have recalled beef ready meals, after tests found they contained horse DNA.

Catering giant Compass Group, which provides schools and hospitals, and Whitbread, one of Britain's largest hotel chains, have also found horse DNA in products supplied to them as beef.

Health experts have said the the issue is one of food fraud rather than food safety.

How widespread is the problem?

Mislabelled processed meat products have so far been discovered in the UK, the Republic of Ireland, France, Norway, Austria, Switzerland, Sweden and Germany. Suspicious products have also been withdrawn in the Netherlands as tests are carried out.

The European Union has told member states to conduct random tests for horsemeat.

In the UK food retailers were told by the Food Standards Agency (FSA) to examine processed beef products soon after the crisis emerged. Some 2,501 tests were conducted but the results announced on 15 February showed that no products other than those already identified contained more than 1% horsemeat.

The 29 positive results were in seven products which had previously been identified and withdrawn. These included some Findus lasagne as well as some Aldi lasagne and spaghetti Bolognese - all made by the Comigel food processing company in France. Some of the products were found to contain up to 100% horsemeat.

What is the cause of the scandal?

Experts say the scandal has highlighted the complexity of the food industry's supply chains across Europe.

In France, where seven supermarket chains have withdrawn all frozen beef meals made by Findus and Comigel, an initial investigation has found that horsemeat sold as beef originated from Romanian slaughterhouses, before being sold to a Dutch food trader, then on to a Cypriot trader and on again to a French firm.

In Nestle's case, the Swiss-based firm has halted deliveries of products containing meat from a German supplier.

Meanwhile, Ireland's Silvercrest Foods and the UK's Dalepak - suppliers of beefburgers to UK supermarkets and caterers - both said they had never bought or traded in horse product and have launched an investigation into their continental European third-party suppliers.

Why would meat suppliers use horsemeat instead of beef?

Many believe financial gain is the motive for the fraud - horsemeat is cheaper than other meats in some countries. Some industry insiders say profit margins have been squeezed by supermarkets and it is understandable that people might "cut corners".

On the Continent the price of horsemeat is much higher as "viande de cheval" is a recognised dish in France. Horsemeat is also eaten in Italy and is consumed in vast quantities in China.

Have there been any arrests or legal action?

In the UK, raids have taken place at Peter Boddy Licensed Slaughterhouse, in Todmorden, West Yorkshire, and Farmbox Meats Ltd, near Aberystwyth, by FSA officials supported by police.

Police also arrested three men on suspicion of offences under the Fraud Act. They have been bailed and all deny any wrongdoing.

Three more firms in London and Hull were later raided.

Meanwhile, evidence seized by UK investigators has been handed to the European law enforcement agency Europol.

In France, Findus France says it has been the victim of fraud and will take action in the courts, accusing French supplier Spanghero of knowingly selling horsemeat labelled as beef. Spanghero denies the allegation and says it is a victim of its Romanian supplier - but when French officials temporarily suspended Spanghero's licence, they said the Romanian firm had acted in good faith.

Dutch officials have raided a meat processing plant suspected of mislabelling beef.

Meanwhile, in Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland, police have been asked to consider whether the beefburgers were adulterated accidentally, in terms of labelling, or whether it was the result of fraudulent activity.

Who is responsible for checking and enforcing standards in the UK?

The Food Standards Agency is an independent food safety watchdog responsible for food safety and food hygiene in the UK, and its work is conducted by local authority inspectors. It tested almost 80,000 samples of food last year and focuses "on those risks that can make people ill or worse" including looking for arsenic and listeria.

But the agency has not been responsible for DNA testing to show whether meat is authentic.

In response to the horsemeat scandal, the FSA have launched a UK-wide survey of food authenticity, to be completed by local authorities in three phases, testing 514 products.

Foodstuffs labelled as containing beef as a major ingredient were the first to be tested. Burgers, mince and sausages were among the phase one of testing which is ongoing, while beef-based ready meals such as lasagne and cottage pie form phase two.

Phase three is due to begin as part of a Europe-wide control programme to check food items such as seasoned kebabs, gelatine, beef dripping, stock cubes and steak.

UK food retailers have also now agreed to update ministers on their own DNA testing on processed beef every three months.

Should I throw away the meat I have bought if I suspect it might be horsemeat?

Horsemeat itself should be as safe to eat as beef and is eaten in many countries around the world.

The government has advised people to carry on with their normal shopping habits unless told otherwise. But if people have any of the recalled products, they are advised to return them to the store they were purchased from.

The FSA ordered tests to check whether a drug given to horses which can be dangerous to humans - bute (phenylbutazone) - had illegally entered the human food chain. It found eight horses, killed in the UK, had tested positive for bute and six may have entered the food chain in France. However, the levels detected are said to pose "very little risk to human health".

Rules introduced this month mean all horsemeat in the UK should now be tested for bute before it is allowed to be sold for food.

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NESTLE YET TO SUBMIT RESULTS OF UK TESTS FOR HORSEMEAT TO FSA
(Guardian, dated 19th February 2013 author James Meikle)
www.guardian.co.uk [Option 1]

Nestlé, the world's biggest food company, which has withdrawn beef and pasta products in Italy, Spain and France because of traces of horsemeat, has so far failed to supply test results for its UK products in the first round of industry checks ordered by the Food Standards Agency (FSA).

Despite stating that it had implemented "enhanced testing of our products and the raw materials we use across Europe" from the moment concerns were raised in the UK last month, it did not report any results to the FSA for publication last Friday.

The FSA said: "Nestlé UK is involved in the industry testing, as requested by the FSA. The results will be provided to the FSA in due course and incorporated into our published results as and when they are available."

Nestlé UK said no supplies from a subcontractor implicated in products withdrawn in Europe were involved in UK products. "We are obtaining compliance statements from all our beef suppliers and conducting independent authenticity tests of all our beef products, in line with FSA requirements, and we are expecting to be able to submit results in this week's reporting cycle. We are monitoring the situation very closely and will comply with any actions required by the authorities."

The company's head office, in Switzerland, said the horsemeat levels found in two products sold in France and Spain were "above the 1% threshold the UK's Food Safety Agency uses to indicate likely adulteration or gross negligence". It had therefore "informed the authorities accordingly". The Buitoni products affected were tested between 11 and 17 February.

Last week at the release of the company's 2012 financial results in Switzerland, the chief executive, Paul Bulcke, told journalists: "Everything under our labels is not affected."

On Monday in a statement hidden away under media releases on its website, the company announced it was suspending deliveries of all products using beef supplied by a German firm, HJ Schypke, a subcontractor of one of its suppliers, JBS Toledo, a company based in Belgium, which proudly boasts of the traceability of its raw materials.

Nestlé said that when reports first emerged in the UK about the "fraudulent mislabelling" of beef, it enhanced testing of products and the raw materials used across Europe.

"Our tests have found traces of horse DNA in two products made from beef supplied by HJ Schypke. There is no food safety issue, but the mislabelling of products means they fail to meet the very high standards consumers expect from us," it said.

"Therefore we are voluntarily removing two chilled pasta products, Buitoni beef ravioli and beef tortellini, from sale in Italy and Spain immediately, and we will replace them with product confirmed by DNA testing to be made from 100% beef. Lasagnes à la bolognaise gourmandes, a frozen meat product for catering businesses by Nestlé Professional produced in France, will also be withdrawn from sale and replaced with product made from 100% beef."

The company added: "We are also enhancing our existing comprehensive quality assurance programme by adding new tests on beef for horse DNA prior to production in Europe. Assuring the quality and safety of our products has always been a top priority for Nestlé. We want to apologise to consumers and reassure them that the actions being taken to deal with this issue will result in higher standards and enhanced traceability."

JBS Toledo, in Ghent, is part of a Brazilian company, JBS, which says it has suspended all its contracts with its German supplier and will cease marketing European meat until confidence is restored in the European beef supply chain.

Jeremiah O'Callaghan, its investor relations director in São Paulo, said: "In this specific case, from the outset of supply, all operational and logistical processes were carried out by the German supplier who delivered the product to the final client."

JBS Toledo "has suspended all its contracts with Schypke and will not market European meat until confidence is restored in the European beef supply chain", he said. JBS would take "all necessary legal measures" to make sure that no losses were incurred as a consequence of this "isolated occurence". No case of co-mingling of species had been identified in products produced in or at JBS factories, said O'Callaghan.

--------------------------------------------------
HORSEMEAT SCANDAL : "GOVERNMENT WARNED TWO YEARS AGO"
(Guardian, dated 17th February 2013 author Matthew Taylor)
www.guardian.co.uk [Option 1]


The beleaguered minister at the centre of the horsemeat scandal, Owen Paterson, has asked the Food Standards Agency to investigate claims that the government was warned potentially harmful horsemeat could enter the food chain two years ago.


The environment secretary ordered the investigation after it was reported the government was warned in 2011 that horsemeat with possible drug residue was getting into food and that the situation could blow up into a scandal.


"I have discussed it with the chief executive of the FSA this morning and she is going to go back through the records and see exactly what was said at the time," Paterson told Sky News's Murnaghan programme.


John Young, a former manager at the Meat Hygiene Service, now part of the Food Standards Agency (FSA), told the Sunday Times he helped draft a letter to the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) in April that year that he said was ignored.


The letter to former minister Sir Jim Paice on behalf of Britain's largest horsemeat exporter, High Peak Meat Exports, warned the government that its passport scheme, designed to stop meat containing the anti-inflammatory drug phenylbutazone, known as bute, getting into the food chain was a "debacle".


"Defra gave nearly 80 organisations the authority to produce passports and some of them are little better than children could produce … It's a complete mess," he said.


Paice said he did not remember seeing the warnings, telling the Sunday Times: "If this information was in Defra and was not being acted upon, it warrants further investigation. I would like to know why on earth I was not being told about it."

Defra claimed on Sunday that the horse passports issue was "unrelated to the fact that horsemeat has been fraudulently passed off as beef."

The latest development follows news that rogue horsemeat had been found in meals destined for hospitals and schools. In Lancashire, cottage pies for 47 schools across the county were withdrawn after testing positive for horsemeat. It was not clear how long the contaminated food had been on the menu or how many pupils may have eaten it.


In Northern Ireland, a range of burgers bound for hospitals were withdrawn after officials confirmed they contained equine DNA, and food giant Compass, which supplies more than 7,000 sites in the UK and Ireland, including schools and hospitals, said a burger product it supplied to two colleges and a small number of offices in Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland had tested positive.


On Sunday, the boss of supermarket Iceland, Malcolm Walker, said local councils were to blame for driving down food quality with cheap food contracts for schools and hospitals. Speaking on the BBC's Andrew Marr show, Walker said the problem lay with councils buying food from the poorly supplied catering industry.


His comments followed an announcement on Sunday from the managing director of Waitrose, Mark Price, who said that, as a result of recent events, the John Lewis-owned firm was planning to set up its own freezing plant to prevent cross-contamination.


Three men arrested by police as part of the investigation were released on bail on Saturday as officials continued to examine evidence from three plants raided on Friday.


The FSA said it had also passed on evidence from two premises in Tottenham, north London, and one in Hull, East Yorkshire, to Europol - the European Union's law enforcement agency - after investigators, accompanied by police officers and local authority officials, removed meat samples for testing.


The FSA has conceded it is unlikely the exact number of people in the UK who have unwittingly eaten horsemeat will ever be known. Its chief executive, Catherine Brown, said testing was the right way to address the issue and that the focus would be on areas of higher risk.


On Friday, the FSA revealed that 2,501 tests were conducted on beef products, with 29 results positive for undeclared horsemeat at or more than 1%.


The 29 results related to seven different products, which have already been reported and withdrawn from sale. The products linked to the positive results were confirmed as Aldi's special frozen beef lasagne and special frozen spaghetti bolognese, the Co-op's frozen quarter-pounder burgers, Findus beef lasagne, Rangeland's catering burger products, and Tesco value frozen burgers and value spaghetti bolognese.


As the results were confirmed, pub and hotel group Whitbread became the latest company to admit horse DNA had been found in its food, saying its meat lasagnes and beefburgers had been affected.


The firm, which owns Premier Inn, Beefeater Grill and Brewers Fayre, said the products had been removed from their menus and would not be replaced until further testing had been carried out.

 

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HORSEMEAT - FOOD FRAUD, NOT FOOD SAFETY
(BBC News, dated 15th February 2013 author Fergus Walsh)
www.bbc.co.uk/news/health-21482127

You may have noticed that I've spent quite a bit of my time reporting about horsemeat in recent days.

I'm the medical correspondent and so that might make you assume that there is a strong health angle to the horsemeat contamination scandal.

The evidence so far would suggest otherwise. This is a food fraud rather than a food safety issue.

Unlike most of the health stories I cover, no one has got ill or is likely to get ill as a result of the horsemeat contamination.

What about the equine painkiller bute? The Food Standards Agency says horse carcasses with traces of the anti-inflammatory have been exported and have been entering the food chain for some time.

This is clearly one of the many failures exposed by this affair.

Bute - or phenylbutazone - is licensed in humans to treat ankylosing spondylitis - a severe form of arthritis that affects the back.

In long-term use it carries a one in 30,000 risk of a serious side effect - the bone marrow disorder aplastic anaemia. It is no longer commonly prescribed and there hasn't been a case of this linked to the drug since at least 1985.

In order to get a single therapeutic dose of bute from horsemeat you'd need to eat 500-600 250g horse burgers. That's an awful lot of meat.

Of course there may be other drugs such as traces of antibiotics which might be found in unregulated horsemeat that enters the food chain.

The Chief Medical Officer, Prof Sally Davies, said the levels would be so low as not to represent a health risk, although she is deeply worried about the long-term threat of antibiotic resistance in the human and animal world. That is another issue.

If horsemeat was used which was rancid or infected that would present other potential health concerns but no-one has found evidence of this. Properly cooked meat would get rid of most pathogens.

There is of course what Prof Davies called the yuck factor. We all like to know what we are eating, and that we can trust the labels on our food.

Horsemeat is popular in mainland Europe, in countries like Italy, France and Belgium. It is a lean meat and I'm told used to be widely used overseas to build the strength of patients who were convalescing.

But for cultural reasons horsemeat is not popular in Britain and the current food scandal is unlikely to change that.

The results of tests which companies were ordered to carry out revealed that the vast majority of processed beef products are free of horsemeat.

But how many of us have unwittingly eaten horsemeat, and how long has the mislabelling of products been going on?

The chief executive of the Food Standards Agency, Catherine Brown, was candid: "These tests are a snapshot so we will never know the full extent - it is shocking."

The food industry still has to rebuild public confidence so that consumers feel they can trust the labels on supermarket shelves.

There is one definite health risk associated with the horsemeat affair. Eating processed meat products carry an increased long-term risk of cancer. If the horsemeat scandal encourages people to eat fewer meals of mass-produced burgers, lasagne and bolognese, it would be one positive outcome from this unpleasant scandal.

-------------------------------------------

THE EUROPEAN TRADE IN HORSEMEAT
(Guardian, dated 15th February 2013 authors Mark McCormick, Mona Chalabi, Simon Rogers and Paddy Allen)
Full data : http://www.guardian.co.uk/uk/datablog/interactive/2013/feb/15/europe-trade-horsemeat-map-interactive

More than 60,000 tonnes of horsemeat was traded by European countries in 2012. This data, from the Eurostat internal trade database shows exports of Equidae over the year - that is, 'horse-like' animals, such as horses, donkeys, mules and asses. Roll over the buttons on the left for details of where each country received its equidae from.

Eurostat internal trade database : http://epp.eurostat.ec.europa.eu/newxtweb/


TOTAL EQUIDAE IMPORTED / (EXPORTED) BY EACH COUNTRY (in Kg)
(Equidae = Meat of horses, asses, mules or hinnies)

Austria : 361,900
Belgium : 6,368,400 (17,320,200)
Bulgaria : 2,994,800 (261,700)
Cyprus : 291,000
Czech Republic : 234,500
Denmark : 206,600
Estonia : 157,900 (31,100)
Finland : 1,534,600
France : 11,840,000 (4,836,900)
Germany : 1,440,000 (296,100)
Greece : 74,300
Hungary : 1,348,700 (912,300)
Ireland : 11,500 (2,671,900)
Italy : 23,321,300 (1,966,100)
Latvia : 116,100
Lithuania : 2,600 (515,900)
Luxembourg : 130,900 (1,295,500)
Malta : 58,000
Netherlands : 8,098,200 (4,729,900)
Poland : 1,064,100 (9,627,200)
Portugal : 200
Romania : 248,500 (4,992,900)
Slovakia : 7,200
Slovenia : 15,200
Spain : 1,000 (3,910,300)
Sweden : 336,500
United Kingdom : 274,200 (1,821,600)

HORSEMEAT : EU IMPORTS AND EXPORTS
(Guardian, dated 13th February 2013 author Mona Chalabi)
Full article :

www.guardian.co.uk/news/datablog/2013/feb/13/horsemeat-uk-eu-imports-exports#table

Ever since the The Food Safety Authority of Ireland first found horse DNA in beef burgers, the horsemeat scandal has been shrouded in confusion. As well as uncertainty about how many processing plants and retailers are involved, little is known about the horsemeat trade itself.

The EU used to collect data on slaughtering of horses but stopped in 2008 when a voluntary agreement was made between Member States to provide this information. Since then, no country has made its data available.

In recent years, statistics have however been published on imports and exports of horsemeat. Though the data is incomplete, it does provide an indication of the UK and Ireland's place in EU trade of horsemeat.

In the business, this is called Equidae meat, meaning the "taxonomic family of horses and related animals". So, that means: horses, donkeys and so on.

Between January and November 2012, 30,000kg of equidae meat was imported to the UK, with a value of €62,088 (£54,000). In 2011, the value of horsemeat imports to the UK were far lower at just €4,102 (£4,000). The reliability of these figures is however questionable since it is also claimed that imports for the same period were 0 kg.

The quantity and value of horsemeat exports from the UK and Ireland are far higher than their imports. Between January and November 2012, the UK exported 1.8 million kilograms of horsemeat to countries within the EU, and 2.2 million kilograms to countries outside the EU. Ireland exported even more in 2012, sending 2.7 million kilograms to EU states and an additional 2.7 million to non-EU Member States.

Ireland and the UK are relatively important players in terms of horsemeat exports, ranking 7th and 9th respectively for the quantity of meat exported within the EU. Countries outside the EU are not important horsemeat trading partners for the UK and Ireland, making up less than 1% of all exports.

The biggest consumers are Italy and France, who together account for ? of all intra-EU horsemeat imports. By contrast, the UK and Ireland together make up less than 1% of all imports within the EU.

Changing meat consumption patterns in the UK mean that the horsemeat scandal has had a far greater impact than it would have done in years past. Statistics from Defra show that household purchases of pork, beef, mutton and lamb carcase meat have halved since the late 70s. In the same period, average quantities of burgers and meat pies per person have doubled while purchases of ready meals and convenience meat products have increased almost six-fold.

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HORSE MEAT SCANDAL : SUMMIT TO MEET
(Telegraph, dated 8th February 2013 authors Victoria Ward and James Kirkup)
www.telegraph.co.uk   [Option 1]


Environment Secretary Owen Paterson is to hold a horse meat summit with the Food Standards Agency (FSA) and retailers - after it emerged Findus beef lasagnes may have been contaminated since August.

The frozen food company reiterated its apology as the FSA ordered firms to carry out tests on all processed beef foods.

Mr Paterson said investigations into how beef products had been contaminated with horse meat were ongoing but "the evidence so far suggests... it's either criminal activity or gross negligence".

Tesco, Aldi and Findus have all had to withdraw food products.

It also emerged on Friday that food served in schools and hospitals may contain horse meat.

A government spokesman was unable to guarantee the authenticity of meat products sold to patients and children.

Samples of food have been sent for testing but the results will not be available until April 8, meaning that consumers will have to wait two months before they know for certain what they are eating.

The police were drawn into the scandal on Friday amid fears that criminals may be involved in supplying horse meat labelled as beef. The development followed confirmation that some Findus beef lasagnes were made entirely of horse meat.

The frozen meals were eventually withdrawn from sale but the public was not informed that the product was contaminated for more than a week after horse meat was first detected in samples.

On Friday, Aldi withdrew its own-brand frozen lasagne and bolognese after they were shown to contain between 30 per cent and 100 per cent horse meat. They had been supplied by the same French company, Comigel, used by Findus.

Asked repeatedly whether or not horse meat was being sold in schools and hospitals, a government spokesman said the Food Standards Agency (FSA) was "looking into various products" to ensure that they met authenticity tests.

Flexi Foods, a meat supplier that is believed to supply schools, confirmed that it had been asked to provide information to the FSA after it was alleged that it had inadvertently imported large amounts of horse meat from Poland.

Owen Paterson, the Environment Secretary, said the FSA was working with suppliers to schools and suggested that products had been knowingly contaminated.

"This looks like a criminal conspiracy," he said. "We are determined to work with the retailers, the distributors and the FSA to get to the bottom of this."

He will hold an emergency meeting today of retailers and suppliers, who have been asked to check their beef stocks for evidence of horse meat by next Friday.

Trading standards officers will take samples from 28 local authorities.

The Local Authority Caterers Association, which represents companies that supply schools, said it could not guarantee the food was not contaminated. "I am reasonably confident that it is not in the school meal chain but we rely on our regulatory body to do the assurances," said Anne Bull, its chairman.

Labour disclosed that it had passed information to the police concerning "several" British companies it suspected were involved in the illegal meat trade.

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HORSE MEAT SCANDAL : NOW TESCO AND OTHER SUPERMARKETS ADMIT TO PORK TRACES IN BEEF BURGER
(Telegraph, dated 3rd February 2013 author Patrick Sawer)
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The scandal over contaminated meat products has widened after Tesco and several other supermarket chains admitted their beef burgers contained traces of pork as well as horse meat.

The development is likely to cause concern to consumers, particularly those who do not eat pork on religious grounds.

It comes after Burger King disclosed last week that some of its Irish-supplied burgers also contained traces of horse DNA, and Tesco announced it was dropping the same Irish supplier responsible for its tainted burgers.

It can now be disclosed that an internal investigation by Tesco, Britain's largest retailer, has found that the "beef" used by the Silvercrest processing facility, in County Monaghan, was found to contain traces of both horse and pork DNA. Until now Tesco and other retailers had only discussed the presence of horse DNA.

The UK's Food Standards Agency is to meet major retailers and suppliers on Monday in an attempt to get to grips with the growing crisis, warning it could take legal action over incidents of contamination.

The original findings of an investigation by the Food Standards Authority of Ireland (FSAI) last month, established that a third of the Silvercrest own brand burgers sold by Tesco, Lidl, Aldi and Iceland supermarkets which it analysed were contaminated with horse meat. One Tesco Everyday Value beef burger contained 29 per cent horse DNA.

At the same time the FSAI found that 23 out of the 27 burgers produced by the Silvercrest facility tested positive for pig DNA. Furthermore 21 out of 31 other beef products, such as cottage pie, beef curry and lasagne also contained pig DNA.

Following the FSAI's findings Tesco carried out its own investigation and also found traces of both pork and horse DNA present in its burgers.

A spokesman for Tesco said: "We found traces of horse DNA, though not in the amounts found by the FSAI. We also found traces of pork DNA. This reflects the industry wide problem of cross contamination at plants that make both beef and pork products.

"We don't contest the FSAI's earlier results, but we want to emphasise, however, that we are talking about very, very small amounts of pork DNA."

Aldi, the supermarket chain, also carried out its own tests, which concluded that two samples of its own range of burgers, produced by Silvercrest, were found to contain 0.1 per cent pork and 0.1 per cent horse DNA. Both ranges have now been withdrawn from sale.

An Aldi spokesman said: "We are deeply angry and feel let down by our supplier and we are pursuing more tests until we are certain that we understand how the production line was contaminated."

Although the Co-op was not implicated in the original scandal, it also carried out its own tests and found that six out of 17 samples from two of its frozen burger ranges contained small traces of pork DNA and four out of the 17 contained a similar amount of horse DNA.

A Co-op spokesman said it had immediately scrapped its contract with Silvercrest.

Asda also admitted it had found traces of pork DNA - along with similar amounts of horse DNA - in four of the burgers from Silvercrest it had already taken off its shelves.

A spokesman for Asda said: "We were as shocked as anyone to discover this, and even though the amounts are likely to be tiny, we accept that may be of little comfort to some of our customers."

Much of the furore surrounding the issue of the contaminated Silvercrest meat - which originated from a supplier in Poland - has concentrated on the presence of horse DNA in products such as beef burgers.

But the question of pork contamination raises equally disturbing issues for consumers, particularly those who refuse to eat the meat for reasons of faith.

Jon Benjamin, chief executive of the Board of Deputies of British Jews, said observant Jews would normally avoid the risk of such contamination by eating only certain types of meat killed in accordance with the rules of Kosher food production.

However, he added: "Those that might be less observant and might eat beef that is not strictly Kosher would still avoid pork and horsemeat, and we hope that mistakes in meat processing are not repeated."

Dr Shuja Shafi, the deputy secretary general of the Muslim Council of Britain, said the discovery of pork DNA in beef products was of as much concern as the presence of horse DNA. Under Islamic law, Muslims are strictly forbidden to eat pork.

He said: "The misdescription of food products is a matter of great concern for us. Companies providing meat or any such food products, as well as food retailers, need to make sure proper assurance schemes are set in place so consumers feel comfortable in knowing what they are buying."

Last week Tim Smith, Tesco's technical director, told the Commons' Environment, Food and Rural Affairs select committee, that the company was in discussion with religious leaders and consumer groups over the issue of cross contamination and the accurate labelling of meat products.

Professor Alan Reilly, chief executive of the FSAI, said that, unlike the presence of horse DNA, there was a plausible explanation for the presence of pig DNA as both beef and pork was processed at the Silvercrest plant.

He added, however: "For some religious groups or people who abstain from eating pig meat, the presence of pig DNA is unacceptable."

Silvercrest, one of the biggest burger plants in Europe - employing 140 people and normally producing 200 million burgers a year - is now closed for 'deep cleaning'. A new management team is to be appointed by its parent company.

The Food Standards Agency said: "People have a right to expect that the food they are eating is correctly described. We have called an urgent meeting of major retailers and suppliers on Monday to ensure that everyone is fully aware of their responsibilities.

"It is the responsibility of food businesses to ensure the food they sell contains what it says on the label. We are considering, with relevant local authorities, whether legal action is appropriate following the investigation."

It emerged on Saturday that the Ministry of Justice is to suspend a firm supplying meat pies and pasties certified as Halal for Muslim prisoners, after tests found traces of pork DNA in them. Justice minister Jeremy Wright said the incident was "absolutely unacceptable".

A Burger King spokesman said an independent test of a second batch of burgers supplied by Silvercrest had found no trace of either pork or horse DNA.

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HORSE DNA FOUND IN BEEFBURGERS FROM FOUR MAJOR SUPERMARKETS
(Guardian, dated 16th January 2013 author Ben Quinn)
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Four major supermarket chains operating in Britain are withdrawing a number of beef products after horse DNA was found in frozen burgers sold in the UK and Ireland by Aldi, Iceland, Lidl and Tesco.

The Food Safety Authority of Ireland (FSAI), which made the discovery, said the burgers were produced by two processing plants in Ireland, Liffey Meats and Silvercrest Foods, and Dalepak Hambleton in the UK.

In nine of the 10 burger samples from the four retailers, and from the Irish chain Dunnes Stores, horse DNA was found at very low levels. However, in one sample, from Tesco, the level of positive DNA indicated horsemeat accounted for 29% relative to the beef content.

The FSAI said the retailers have agreed to remove all implicated batches from sale.

Professor Alan Reilly, chief executive of the FSAI, said while the findings posed no risk to health they did raise concerns. "The products we have identified as containing horse DNA and/or pig DNA do not pose any food safety risk and consumers should not be worried," he added. "Consumers who have purchased any of the implicated products can return them to their retailer.

"While there is a plausible explanation for the presence of pig DNA in these products, due to the fact that meat from different animals is processed in the same meat plants, 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."

He said it was not part of Irish culture to eat horsemeat: "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."

A spokeswoman for Tesco said the grocer was working with the authorities in Ireland and the UK, and with the suppliers concerned, to ensure that type of contamination did not happen again.

"We will not take any products from this site until the conclusion and satisfactory resolution of an investigation," she added. "The safety and quality of our food is of the highest importance to Tesco. We will not tolerate any compromise in the quality of the food we sell. The presence of illegal meat in our products is extremely serious."

Iceland said it had noted "with concern" the statement issued by the FSAI and had withdrawn from sale the two Iceland brand quarter-pounder burger lines implicated in the study, pending further investigation.


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THE END, OR IS IT THE START !