Horsemeat found in burgers in Ireland and UK, Food Safety Authority study says

By on Jan 16, 2013 in Europe, Food, Lifestyle Comments

Updated: January 25, 2013 2:30 a.m.

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Traces of horsemeat were found in burgers in Ireland, based on a report of Food Safety Authority of Ireland (FSAI) after conducting a DNA test of burger products that were produced by two processing plants in the country: Liffey Meats and Silvercrest Foods, as well as in Dalepak Hambleton, a UK plant.

horsemeat food package

Smoked horsemeat in package, bought in a Dutch
supermarket; it is usually eaten in a sandwich
in the Netherlands

Image Credit: Ziko van Dijk/Wikipedia

According to a press release published at on Tuesday, January 15, 2013, the horsemeat found in these plants in Ireland raised concerns on the possibility of its presence being served in several food chains, as well as in retail outlets selling beef burger, beef meal, and salami products.

As noted in the report, a total of 27 beef burger products were analyzed. Ten (or 37%) of them were proven positive for horse DNA and 23 (or 85%) were proven positive for obtaining pig DNA. Horsemeat DNA was also found in batches of raw ingredients, including imported products from The Netherlands and Spain.

“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. Consumers who have purchased any of the implicated products can return them to their retailer.” Prof. Alan Reilly, Chief Executive, FSAI, was quoted in the press release.

“Whilst, 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.” Reilly added.

“In Ireland, it is not in our culture to eat horsemeat and therefore, 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.” Reilly explained further.

In addition, FSAI also found pig DNA on 21 of 31 beef meal products (cottage pie, beef curry pie, lasagne, etc). However, none of them were found positive for horse DNA, and the same result were found in all of the 19 salami products tested. The affected food products were being sold in Tesco, Dunnes Stores, Lidl, Aldi, and Iceland.

The food safety agency noted that 9 out of 10 samples were proven to have low levels of horsemeat. But in one sampling test from Tesco, the level of horsemeat DNA found was around 29% relative to the beef ingredient. It is legal to buy or sell horsemeat in the UK, but it is illegal not to declare it on food labels.

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