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Dublin: 14 °C Wednesday 26 September, 2018
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Horsemeat: Focus on Naas company over imported Polish meat

Minister Simon Coveney said that his department intends to introduce DNA testing from now on as a part of routine food testing in Ireland.

THE INVESTIGATION INTO the horsemeat scandal has focused on a Naas company this week, over consignments of frozen beef trimmings that showed positive for equine DNA.

The business in question is QK Cold Stores, in Naas, Co Kildare, which, according to the Department of Agriculture, disclosed that consignments of beef trimmings imported from Poland were tested by them and some showed positive for equine DNA.

These consignments were either returned to the Polish companies concerned or are under detention by the Department at the cold store. The company concerned has confirmed to the Department that none of the consignments that tested positive for equine DNA were released onto the market.

EU approach

Following a meeting with eight EU Ministers and Commissioner Borg in Brussels on Wednesday night, the EU Standing Committee on Food and Animal Health (SCOFAH) met yesterday to agree the detail of a pan European testing programme as a result of the horsemeat scandal.

Testing under this programme commences next week and Ireland will submit all related results from the initial month of testing to the Commission by April 15.

In addition to the EU wide initiative, Minister Coveney said:

The FSAI and my Department met with the meat processing sector yesterday to agree a national protocol for DNA testing of meat to be applied at retail, catering and processing level in Ireland. We intend to introduce DNA testing from now on as part of routine food testing across the country.

He said that the industry has already been engaged in product testing of over 200 samples and results received by the FSAI to date have all been negative for equine DNA. According to Coveney, a further five tested positive but these were all in respect of products previously identified as a problem and these products have already been removed from the market.

Testing for Phenylbutazone – a drug given to racehorses that can have serious medical effects if meat containing it is ingested by humans – was agreed to at an EU wide level by SCOFAH yesterday.  Animals given the drug, which is also known as ‘bute’, are not allowed to enter the food chain.

The Minister also announced that his Department and the FSAI are formulating a more comprehensive testing regime for horsemeat to provide full reassurance that no illegal slaughtering of horsemeat is taking place.

Europol

On Wednesday night, Ministers agreed to work in coordination with Europol. Yesterday, the Minister confirmed that his Department’s Special Investigations Unit is liaising with Europol through the Garda Síochána. This involves the provision of all information linked to the investigation to date focusing on the supply chains to Silvercrest and Rangeland.

Coveney said that his department have made significant steps forward this week in their investigations nationally and also at a European level.

Ireland continues to be to the forefront of both highlighting and solving this fraudulent mislabelling of meat and we will continue to do so.

Read: Services company says Rangeland products tested positive for horse DNA>

Read: Calls for DNA meat testing to become mandatory in the EU>

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