Horsemeat: McAdam disputes part of Fairbairn evidence to EFRA

Some of the information ex-commercial director of Freeza Meats James Fairbairn gave to the Environmental Food and Rural Affairs (EFRA) committee on Tuesday was “factually incorrect” a spokesman for McAdam Food has told MeatInfo.co.uk.

The spokesperson was referring to an article published by MeatInfo.co.uk about the evidence given to the EFRA committee by Fairbairn on Tuesday. Although the spokesman said MeatInfo.co.uk reported the story “accurately”, he claimed that parts of Fairbairn’s statement were not correct.

Fairbairn told the EFRA committee in the House of Commons earlier this week that his company was storing a parcel of meat on behalf of McAdam Foods, which had been rejected by Silvercrest. He told committee chair Anne McIntosh: “He [McAdam] had a particular problem one weekend, approaching us on 18 August, when a parcel had been refused by Silvercrest Foods.”

However, McAdam’s spokesperson said: “That parcel of meat was transferred from the premises of a totally separate and unconnected customer of McAdam, Rangeland Foods, which was confirmed by the Food Safety Authority of Ireland’s audit. That consignment had no connection with Silvercrest.”

He added that McAdam had asked Freeza Meats, a Newry Northern Ireland-based company, to store the consignment of meat “simply because the consignment of frozen meat received was out of size for Rangeland”. He further stated: “This meat was ordered for Rangeland from a UK supplier by McAdam Foods. It was ordered from and then delivered in July 2012 directly by the UK supplier.”

Relinquished ownership

Fairbairn told the committee that an Environmental Health Officer (EHO) had inspected the meat and deemed it unfit to enter the food chain, resulting in its quarantine while enquiries were made. It was not known that the consignment contained horsemeat at this time, both McAdam and Freeza Meats confirmed, and it had been with Freeza Meats for around two weeks by this point.

Of the consignment’s condition, Fairbairn claimed it was very badly wrapped, freezer-burnt, with some of the beef exposed and sitting on splintered dirty wooden pallets. “We wrapped it with cling-wrap and labelled it ‘for storage only, do not touch’,” he said.

However, the McAdam spokesman said McAdam Foods had relinquished ownership of the order, insisting the supplier of the goods redeem them. “McAdam relinquished its ownership of the order, was credited in full on cancellation, and insisted that the UK supplier redeem the goods,” the spokesperson said.

A letter was recently submitted to the EFRA committee by McAdam Foods proprietor Martin McAdam, which said: “McAdam Food Products unknowingly, unwittingly and unintentionally imported some beef products into Ireland, which were subsequently found to have contained equine DNA.

“The recent report of the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine (March 2013: ‘Equine DNA & Mislabelling of Processed Beef Investigation’) stated: ‘There is no evidence that this company (McAdam) knowingly traded processed meat product that was subsequently found to have tested positive for equine DNA’.”