Consumers who buy value-priced burgers in UK supermarkets may get more than beef between their bread according to tests by the Food Standards Agency (FSA) and the Food Safety Authority of Ireland. Because of the low price of the burgers, the mixture must contain at least 47% real meat, but there are other laws that prevent suppliers from using horse meat as filler.
Contamination in the Supply Chain
An Irish processing facility called Silvercrest supplied supermarkets throughout Europe, including Tesco and Asda with frozen beef patties that contained significant amounts of pig and horse meat. When officials investigated the Silvercrest plant, owned by industry giant APB, over 65% of the burgers contained horse meat. After further review, officials traced the contaminated meat to suppliers in Holland that sell filler ingredients to the Silvercrest factory for their value beef burgers.
Undoing the Damage
Supermarkets in the area that receive products from the suspected supplier pulled all questionable merchandise and issued apologies to their customers. The Silvercrest plant remains closed until the situation is under control, but other APB factories continue to run as normal. Dalepak in North Yorkshire supplies several supermarkets and may have contaminated meat as well. According to Irish agriculture minister, Simon Coveney, “The same supplier supplied product into Liffey Meats and the factory in the UK.”
An APB official said, however, that “the supplier in question has not been used by Dalepak for several months.” The factory will stay open as officials wait for test results on samples sent off last week. Labour MP, Barry Gardiner urges APB, “You should close down the plant, find out how the contamination happened, clean up the system and reassure your customer that everything is operating as it should.”
Until the Dalepak factory is no longer under questioning, it will be up to retailers and consumers to take a stand for food safety. It isn’t clear which supermarkets, if any, are still selling beef products from APB processors.