Burger King restaurants in Britain and Ireland are dumping all meat products from one of the plants at the centre of an investigation into horse DNA in beef burgers.
The inquiry was launched in both countries following tests by the Food Safety Authority of Ireland. A total of 27 beef burger products were analysed, with 37 per cent – 10 of the 27 products – testing positive for horse DNA and 23 (85 per cent) testing positive for pig DNA.
In nine of the 10 beef burger samples, horse DNA was found at very low levels. However, in one sample from Tesco, the level of horse DNA indicated that horse meat accounted for about 29 per cent relative to the beef content.
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 Britain, Dalepak Hambleton.
The plants have implicated meat product sourced from the European mainland from EU-accredited suppliers.
Further tests were carried out, with equine DNA found in samples of burgers taken by the department on January 15 from product manufactured at Silvercrest Foods between January 3 and 14.
Thirteen samples of finished burgers were tested. Nine tested positive for traces of equine DNA and another four have tested negative.
Seven samples of raw ingredients were tested, one of which, sourced from another EU state, tested positive.
All ingredients in the production of burgers sourced from Irish suppliers tested negative for equine DNA.
Burger King confirmed that Silvercrest, a subsidiary of ABP Food Group, has been supplying beef patties to its restaurants in Britain and Ireland.
The chain said it had immediately launched an independent investigation following the revelations by Ireland’s food watchdog.
“As a precaution, this past weekend we decided to replace all Silvercrest products in the UK and Ireland with products from another approved Burger King supplier.
“This is a voluntary and precautionary measure. We are working diligently to identify suppliers that can produce 100 per cent pure Irish and British beef products that meet our high quality standards.
“Unfortunately, this may mean that some of our products are temporarily unavailable. We apologise to our guests for any inconvenience. However, we want to let them know that they can trust us to serve only the highest quality products.”
Burger King said it took the matter seriously and would continue its investigation to determine how the situation occurred and what lessons could be learned.