Poland requests proof on horsemeat source

Poland’s chief veterinary officer has written to Irish food safety officials asking for proof on the link made between contaminated burgers and Polish suppliers.

Dr Janusz Zwiazek said Polish authorities had carried out tests at Polish meat suppliers and slaughterhouses, but had found no evidence of horsemeat contamination. He requested access to the sample results and documentation that had led Irish authorities to conclude that Polish suppliers were the source of the contaminated meat.

Zwiazek also asked for samples from Rangeland Foods – the Irish plant found to possess raw material from Poland that contained 75% horse DNA – to be retested in the presence of the Polish suppliers and Polish veterinary inspectors.

Meanwhile, Rangeland Foods is due to resume burger production shortly, having being given the all-clear in an audit by Irish officials.

Irish police and special investigators from Ireland’s Department of Agriculture continue to investigate McAdam Food Services, the Irish meat trader accused of supplying the contaminated beef to Rangeland Foods and owning raw material stored at Freeza Meats, which was found to contain 80% horsemeat.

McAdam has also been identified as a supplier to Silvercrest, the ABP plant at the centre of the scandal, but the company yesterday (6 February) contested ABP’s claim that it supplied 170 tonnes (t) of beef to the plant last year.

"McAdam Foods have checked their invoices to Silvercrest Foods and this shows that they supplied Silvercrest with 110 tonnes of Irish pork, leaving only 60 tonnes of imported frozen Polish beef being delivered.  Therefore ABP have totally overstated the volumes traded," it stated.

The company added that Silvercrest would have been "entirely aware of the origin of product supplied" from Poland, and named ‘Foodservice’ Poland,  and ‘Mipol’ Poland as the companies which supplied the meat sent to ABP.

The company has also denied any knowledge that the Polish meat supplied to Rangeland Foods was contaminated and claimed the Polish beef held at Freeza was supplied by a UK meat trader. It said it had supplied documentation to the Irish authorities and was confident that it would be “fully exonerated” of any wrongdoing.

In the UK, the Food Standards Agency has announced that it will be conducting a UK-wide survey of processed meat products, testing for horse and pig DNA in a range of beef products. It said the tests aimed to “identify and understand factors that may lead to the presence of meat species that are not labelled as an ingredient, so that this can be explained, eliminated or correctly labelled”.

The FSA said that 28 local authorities across the UK would take a total of 224 samples and that the results of the tests would be published, including brand names, and enforcement action would be taken where necessary.

Results of the survey are expected to be published in April 2013.