Irish company kept horsemeat secret
An Irish government investigation has found that an Irish meat plant uncovered several cases of contamination of its beef supplies with horsemeat from June 2012 but kept it secret until February 2013. This information was discovered during the investigation by the Ireland’s Ministry for Agriculture, Food, and the Marine, and detailed in a report released in March. The company’s South African arm, based in City Deep, Jo’burg, is Woolworths’ dedicated meat supplier.
Investigators discovered that one company, QK Meats, based just outside Dublin, had beef trimmings test positive for horse DNA as early as June 2012.
QK Meats had sourced beef products from 19 different Polish suppliers and stored the items. The company admitted to testing 15 shipments from nine of the 19 Polish suppliers, and seven of the tests were positive for horse DNA. The first positive test was returned June 27, 2012, according to the report. Additional positive tests came back in October, November and December 2012 and again in January 2013.
The company claims none of the contaminated beef entered the food chain. However, on March 5 Birds Eye identified QK Meats as the source of beef contaminated with horsemeat that was found in spaghetti and lasagna product. The report says the beef trimmings sourced in Poland by QK Meats were €400 cheaper than equivalent products in Ireland.
According to the report: “This failure on the part of QK Meats senior management showed scant regard for the public good and was a serious failure of judgment on its part in not revealing to the official authorities information that could have shortened the initial phase of the investigation in identifying the likely source of the equine DNA. The plant remains under investigation.”
The report recommends that European regulations on identification and traceability should be reviewed and that it be a requirement across the EU for food business operators to inform authorities about mislabeling. New rules forcing meat traders to register as food business operators will also be introduced in Ireland.
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