More Polish-sourced raw materials imported into Ireland for use in burger production has tested positive for horse DNA, authorities have announced.
Ireland’s Agriculture Minister, Simon Coveney, announced last night that his department had received a test result confirming 75 per cent equine DNA in a raw material ingredient at Rangeland Foods, in County Monaghan.
Rangeland Foods told the department of its use of Polish meat ingredients in the manufacture of certain burger lines last Thursday evening due to the suspicion of the presence of equine DNA, Coveney said.
The department took samples of the material concerned from the plant to test for equine DNA and received the results yesterday.
“In this case the raw material was imported through a meat trader based in Ireland,” the minister said.
Production has been suspended at Rangeland Foods pending the outcome of the investigation, he said.
“The company has indicated that none of this product has entered the food chain.
“The department has had inspectors in the plant since last Friday,” he added.
“The investigation is focusing on the full supply chain, including the meat trader concerned and others who facilitated the purchase of the product and its transfer to users in Ireland.”
Rangeland Foods calls itself Ireland’s number one producer of beef burgers in the food service industry, specialising in the pub and restaurant trade, event catering, industrial catering, and quick-service restaurant markets.
Coveney said the department was still in contact with the Polish authorities, as investigations had shown that all implicated raw-material ingredients were labelled as Polish product.
Coveney said the latest findings, added to the facts uncovered in the investigation at Ireland’s Silvercrest plant and inquiries in Northern Ireland, had convinced him to order the involvement of the Special Investigation Unit of the department. He has also asked the police to join the investigation team.
The department said it had been conducting further inquiries to establish whether Polish-labelled product had been used in other meat-processing plants in Ireland following the results at Silvercrest, after findings late last month that beef burgers produced by two plants in Ireland and one in Britain had produced burgers tainted with horse DNA.
One burger was found to have 29 per cent horse DNA relative to its beef content.
The findings resulted in tens of millions of frozen beef burgers being pulled from supermarket freezers.
Polish-sourced product, which is understood to be have been labelled as beef trimmings, has been identified as the likely source of the contamination.
Polish authorities have been notified and tests were being conducted at plants in Poland.
It was reported yesterday that five of six plants had so far returned negative results for horse DNA.