Following yesterday's announcement by the FSAI that traces of equine and pig DNA have been identified in a number of samples of frozen beef burgers, Meat Industry Ireland has reiterated that there is no risk to public health and that consumers should not be worried.
Commenting on the findings of the FSAI study, which examined the authenticity of a number of beef burger, beef meal and salami products, Director of Meat Industry Ireland, Cormac Healy, said: "The sample results suggest that this was a case of non-deliberate cross-contamination from raw material supplied for processing. The companies concerned are cooperating fully with the authorities to identify the source of the problem and address the issue."
A total of 27 beef burger products were analysed with 10 of the 27 products (37%) testing positive for horse DNA and 23 (85%) testing positive for pig DNA. In addition, 31 beef meal products (cottage pie, beef curry pie, lasagne, etc) were analysed of which 21 were positive for pig DNA and all were negative for horse DNA.
All 19 salami products analysed tested negative for horse DNA. Traces of horse DNA were also detected in batches of raw ingredients, including some imported from The Netherlands and Spain.
The beef burger products which tested positive for horse DNA were produced by two processing plants in Ireland, Liffey Meats and Silvercrest Foods, and one plant in the UK, Dalepak Hambleton.
The products were on sale in Tesco, Dunnes Stores, Lidl, Aldi and Iceland. In nine of the ten beef burger samples from these retailers, horse DNA was found at very low levels. However, in one sample from Tesco, the level of horse DNA indicated that horsemeat accounted for approximately 29% relative to the beef content.
Responding to the findings, retailer Aldi stated that it takes the quality of all its products extremely seriously and demands the highest standards from its suppliers. According to the retailer, it also carries out regular independent testing of all meat products it sells.
The statement read: "Following notification this afternoon from the Food Safety Authority of Ireland (FSAI) of an issue in relation to our Oakhurst Beef Burgers (8 pack) we have immediately removed the product from sale and have launched an investigation into the matter. We have sought information from one supplier, Silvercrest, which is dealing directly with the FSAI on the issue that has been raised."
The statement added that any customer that wishes to return the product in question will receive an immediate refund.