Food Law News - UK - 2013

FSA News Item, 18 January 2013

MEAT - Second update on investigation into horse and pig DNA in beef products

The retailers and UK processor that were named in the investigation by the Food Safety Authority of Ireland (FSAI) into horse and pig DNA in beef products have provided additional information to the Food Standards Agency.

This has included detailed information on the suppliers of the products involved, which is allowing further investigations to take place. The authorities in Ireland and in the UK are working closely together; Tesco is carrying out a complementary investigation.

The FSA is stressing that, on the basis of the evidence, there is no food safety risk to consumers from these products. There is nothing about horse meat that makes it any less safe than other meat products. The meat products were supplied to the retailers by approved establishments. The burgers that contained horse DNA were tested by FSAI for the presence of phenylbutazone, a commonly used medicine in horses that is not allowed in the food chain; all of the results were negative.

The retailers named by FSAI have confirmed that they have removed all relevant products from their shelves. Other major retailers have decided to remove products from sale from the suppliers named in the investigation. The FSA recognises that this is an appropriate action for retailers to take to maintain consumer confidence.

The Department for Agriculture, Food and the Marine in Ireland stated yesterday evening that further samples of products from the Silvercrest processing plant had been tested. Seven samples of raw ingredients were tested, one of which, sourced from another European Union Member State, tested positive for the presence of horse DNA. The Silvercrest plant has temporarily suspended all production. The FSA’s investigation into the Dalepak plant in Yorkshire is focusing particularly on Dalepak's suppliers and whether it has suppliers in common with Silvercrest.

The FSA has initiated a sampling programme to investigate the authenticity, that is, the content compared with the label’s listed ingredients, of a range of meat products. We are working with a number of local authorities to take samples for analysis in Official Control laboratories. Samples have been taken from the Dalepak plant by North Yorkshire Trading Standards. These have been sent for testing to assess both the presence and level of any horse or pig DNA.

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