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Horse DNA found in products supplied by firm run by minister's brother

Greencore – run by Simon Coveney’s brother Patrick – says its beef was sourced from an ABP plant in Nenagh.

Patrick Coveney, the brother of agriculture minister Simon Coveney and the chief executive of Greencore Group.
Patrick Coveney, the brother of agriculture minister Simon Coveney and the chief executive of Greencore Group.
Image: Laura Hutton/Photocall Ireland

Updated, 22:04

A MAJOR food company whose chief executive is the brother of the Minister for Agriculture has confirmed that one of its beef products has been found to contain traces of horse meat.

Products manufactured by Greencore, a publicly traded company headquartered in Santry, have been taken off the shelves by Asda after positive tests on a beef bolognaise sauce product.

Asda has withdrawn that product and three others manufactured at the same Greencore plant in Bristol.

Greencore is run by Patrick Coveney, the brother of the Minister for Agriculture, Simon Coveney – who yesterday convened a special meeting of his EU counterparts in Brussels to discuss an EU-wide approach to the problem.

Greencore produces 150 million prepared meals a year at its five British plants, including the facility in Bristol.

This evening Greencore confirmed it had supplied the products concerned and that it was awaiting further tests to determine the exact quantity of equine DNA in the beef produce.

It said the beef in the products had been supplied by ABP Food Group and had been produced at its plant in Nenagh.

Describing ABP as “an approved and regularly audited supplier’, Greencore said it was “working closely with them to determine the full facts as we await the results of the further tests.”

ABP is the parent company of Silvercrest Foods, whose facility in Monaghan was among the first to be found as having provided beef products including equine DNA.

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The discovery of horse DNA in the bolognaise sauce marks the first time that horse DNA has been found in a fresh product in Britain or Ireland.

Until now, the equine DNA had only been found in frozen products.

A spokesperson for Greencore could not be contacted by the time of publication.

Simon Coveney’s annual disclosures in the Dáil’s annual register of members interests certify that he does not own any shares, or have any other immediate financial interest, in the company run by his brother.

Patrick Coveney joined the board of Greencore in 2005, and was promoted from Chief Financial Officer to CEO in March 2008. He had previously been a partner with McKinsey and Company.

Read: Coveney: ‘I suspect this isn’t just one rogue trader, it’s broader than that’

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

Plus: Supermac’s distances itself from the Rangeland Foods horsemeat scandal

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Gavan Reilly

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