Europe is still experiencing the meat adulteration scandal  after DNA testing, used to solve the horse meat scandal found  that food advertised to contain beef was found to have, in some cases, 100% undeclared horse meat, as well as other meats, such as pork.  It all came to a head when it was finally discovered in beef burgers that were being sold in several Irish and British supermarkets.

Horse meat is by no means harmful to anyone’s health and is actually eaten in many countries – but it is also considered unthinkable in others, including UK and Ireland.  It was also confirmed that 23 out of 27 samples of beef burgers contained pig DNA which is a taboo food to the Muslim and Jewish communities.  It was also reported that some harmful components were also discovered – like for example, it is possible that sports horses could have easily entered the food supply chain also included the veterinary drug phenylbutazone, which is banned in food animals.

ABP food group

It was the ABP Food Group that was right in the middle of this horse meat scandal – and they recently announced their plans to DNA-test almost a million cattle a year, thus allowing them to trace back the animal of origin of their meat products. It was stated that the company had learned ‘significant lessons’ from this scandal and had been closely examining the potential for DNA testing.

Silvercrest, ABP’s former plant in Ballybay, Co Monaghan, actually produced the burger that contained 29% horse meat which was the focal point of the said scandal, way back in January. Kepak (Kepak Ballybay) are now the new owners and had won back the contract from Burger King which they lost when the scandal had erupted.

DNA-testing of animals

The UK-Ireland Food Business Summit in Dublin is now going to DNA-test every animal which is processed in the plant – in fact ABP, as stated by Mr Finnerty, will be the first beef processor (in Europe and possibly the world) to DNA-swab every animal that they process – this will be approximately a million cattle per annum. Also it will enable them to take certain products from any shelf or restaurant table and literally trace it back through100% DNA programme to the animal of origin. This will not only reassure customers but it also offers the opportunity for major improvement. Mr Finnerty added ‘’imagine being able to take steaks off a shelf and through DNA, trace back and immediately identify which farms, breeds, age, sex which feed regime produced the best quality product.’’

Birds eye and DNA testing

Birds Eye who were caught up in the abovementioned scandal, discovered that one of its suppliers had received beef that contained horse meat, after which the company launched a DNA testing programme, where minced beef goes through three stages of DNA testing before actually reaching its destination. All Birds Eye suppliers have agreed to DNA test all products that enter and leave their facilities and then Birds Eye will conduct their own DNA tests prior to the product being shipped to supermarkets.

Horse meat in burgers

It has been over three months now since Food Safety Authority of Ireland(FSAI) have discovered the circulation of horse meat on the Irish market. Read the full story.


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