No nasty new surprises in raft of horse-meat tests


Twenty-nine positive test results for horse-meat contamination were announced by British authorities today, although the vast majority of 2500 tested products recorded clear results.

Britain’s Food Standards Agency published the first set of industry results from beef products tested for the presence of horse DNA.

The 29 positive results for undeclared horse meat all related to seven products that have already been reported and where the food business and the agency had already taken appropriate action to remove the products from sale.

It said it had received 2501 results, 2472 of which were negative for horse DNA at or above the level of 1 per cent. That equated to 99 per cent of products testing clear.

At least 950 tests are still in progress.

The agency has been working with trade bodies in the food industry to collate the results as quickly as possible, to get an accurate picture of the testing being carried out across the British food chain.

This testing was a result of an instruction issued by the agency’s chief executive, Catherine Brown, earlier this month, to conduct authenticity tests on their composite beef products, such as burgers, lasagnes and meatballs, in light of the recent horse-meat scandal.

The samples were carried out on both raw ingredients and final products, and taken from a range of manufacturers, catering suppliers, wholesalers, producers and retailers across Britain.

Where products were found to contain horse DNA, they were tested for the veterinary drug phenylbutazone, known as bute, which is banned from the human food chain because of health risks. All tests for bute came back negative.

Announcing the results, Brown said: “Since this incident began on January 16, businesses have been carrying out a large number of tests.

“We said that industry should share those results with us, and the public, and we asked for the first results to be with us today. The results so far date from when businesses began their testing four weeks ago. They include results which were received by companies up to around 10am this morning.

“It is encouraging that we have received so many results from industry so quickly, which reaffirms their commitment to working with us to address the serious issue of consumer confidence in the UK food supply.

“More important for consumers, it shows that in the vast majority of cases the results so far are showing that no horse DNA is present in the foods tested. But this is still far from the full picture and we expect industry to continue to supply us with regular updates on their testing regime.

“We’ve asked industry to test for horse DNA down to a level of 1 per cent. There are two reasons for this. First, that’s a pragmatic level above which we think any contamination would be due to either gross incompetence or deliberate fraud; it’s not going to be accidental. Second, some laboratories can only test accurately down to a level of 1 per cent.

“But that does not mean that we’re not concerned with, or that we accept, levels below 1 per cent. In terms of faith groups, there remains a significant issue about trace levels of other species below 1 per cent. So we have a separate programme of work under way with [agriculture body] Defra to look at the issues around that, too.

“Further results are expected over the coming weeks and the Food Standards Agency will publish another update this time next week.”

Meanwhile, British supermarket chain Asda said on Thursday it had found horse DNA in its beef bolognese sauce. The chain said it was withdrawing the product. Three other products – a beef broth soup, meat feast pasta sauce and chilli con carne soup – were being withdrawn as a precauitionary measure because of manufacturing links.

An Asda spokespeson said preliminary tests on the bolognese had indicated the presence of horse DNA, resulting in the withdrawal.

Last month, the chain withdrew four burger products found to contain trace levels of horse DNA. The burgers were supplied by Irish firm Silvercrest, which had also sold Tesco.

Also on Thursday, Irish catering supplier Rangeland Foods said it was withdrawing frozen burger products after discovering some had 5 percent to 30 percent horse meat. The firm supplies restaurants, pubs, caterers and a fast-food chain.

The scandal around horse-meat contamination in processed beef products has mushroomed since initial test results in the Irish republic revealed contamination. The worst in that series of tests was 29 per cent horse meat.

Testing of other products produced in Europe and purportedly made only from beef were found to contain up to 100 per cent horse meat.

Latest research and information from the horse world.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *