ABP says it sourced contaminated Polish horse meat from Irish trader
ABP’S Silvercrest plant has claimed it purchased Polish meat products contaminated with horse DNA from an Irish meat trader at the centre of the horse meat investigation, it has emerged.
It was Initially identified as the supplier of frozen burger products that tested positive for up to 80 per cent horse DNA to companies called Rangeland Foods, from County Monaghan, the Republic of Ireland, and Freeza Meats, from Newry, in Northern Ireland.
It has now emerged that ABP’s Silvercrest plant, which was identified as the source of Tesco burgers containing 29 per cent horse DNA in the original Food Standards Authority of Ireland investigation, sourced 170 tonnes of contaminated meat from the company.
In a statement, ABP said: “ABP Food Group confirms that Silvercrest purchased beef products from McAdams Food Service (circa 170 tonnes out of total beef purchases in 2012 of 18,000 tonnes).
“It appears now that while Silvercrest purchased these beef products in good faith, horse DNA originating in Poland was present in some of these products. ABP Food Group continues to co-operate fully with the competent authorities in the investigation.”
McAdam Foods confirmed that it supplied Silvercrest, also from County Monaghan, ‘with beef until November 2012 and pork thereafter’.
The Irish Department of Agriculture confirmed on January 26 that the source of contamination of the Silvercrest burgers was raw material imported from Poland. ABP said at the time this confirmed its ‘initial view that this contamination originates from third party continental supply’.
Production is still suspended at the Silvercrest plant, which has lost frozen orders from major buyers, including Tesco and Burger King, reportedly worth around £50 million. Silvercrest’s management has been replaced and the company has been re-positioned within the ABP Food Group.
The family-owned Mcadam Foods describes its main business as the ‘export of meat from Ireland to industrial and commercial clients across Northern Europe, with meat wholesale a growing part of our business now across Ireland’.
It supplies’ a huge range’ of beef and pork products’, from classic cuts to ‘exotic or unusual’ cuts – ‘all guaranteed high quality, produced and delivered within EU statutory regulations’. It promotes its ability to deliver ‘any cut, any volume, anywhere across Europe’.
In a statement on Tuesday evening McAdam insisted it purchased the contaminated meat cuts from Poland in good faith and was confident it would be ‘fully exonerated’ of any wrongdoing.
“The company, its management and staff are shocked and astonished to discover that equine content has been identified in products which have been imported and supplied through McAdam Foods,” the statement said.
It added that the products were ‘bought and imported on the basis of their being ordered, documented, labelled and understood to be beef, and nothing else’.
“We are confident that the documentation and proof that we have provided to the authorities will fully exonerate our company.”
Freeza Meats said in a statement that it was only storing the contaminated product ‘out of goodwill’ on behalf of McAdam and that all its own meat products tested had proved negative for contamination.
Irish Agriculture Minister Simon Coveney told an Irish Parliamentary committee on Tuesday the Government investigation was seeking to establish ‘whether there is fraudulent or criminal activity involved’ in the contamination. If there is, ‘it is our intention to expose that’, he said.
He said the Department is in ‘continuing contact’ with the Polish authorities as the investigation has shown that ‘all implicated raw material ingredient is labelled as Polish product’.
“We have invited the Polish veterinary authorities to Ireland if they consider it necessary to examine the product and accompanying documentation,” he said.
He said the investigation was ‘focusing on the full supply chain including those who facilitated the purchase of the product and its transfer to users in Ireland’.