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Irish firm among hundreds hit by new horsemeat scandal in the Netherlands

Earlier the Netherlands’ food safety agency said that a Dutch supplier may have distributed as much as 50,000 tonnes of contaminated beef to companies across Europe.

Image: Niall Carson/PA Wire/Press Association Images

THE DEPARTMENT OF Agriculture is to investigate an Irish meat supplier which received horsemeat from a Dutch company that may have distributed as much as 50,000 tonnes of contaminated meat to firms across Europe.

The Food Safety Authority of Ireland has confirmed that the unnamed Irish company will be investigated by the Department to determine how much potentially contaminated meat it got and where it went.

The Irish firm is one of hundreds across Europe which have been warned that they may have been supplied with possible horse-contaminated meat from the Selten company which consists of Wiljo Import and Export and Meat Wholesaler Willy Selten.

Earlier, the Netherlands’ food safety agency has said that around 370 companies across Europe could be affected but so far there is only one Irish company involved according to officials here.

The Dutch agency sent a letter to 130 Dutch companies who were supplied with possible horse-contaminated beef from the Selten company asking them to “take it off the market as a precautionary measure” and “verify all products”.

Already eaten

It said that although the meat’s origin could not be guaranteed, “there are no signs of a danger to public health.”

“The companies have possibly already processed the meat and sold it,” the government’s NVWA food and consumer watchdog said in a statement. “We estimate it’s about 50,000 tonnes of meat,” it added.

NVWA spokeswoman Esther Filon told AFP that the meat was supplied between January 2011 and February 2013 across Europe.

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Dutch public television NOS reported that the suspect meat could be on supermarket shelves, notably in frozen food. Because the meat was supplied in 2011, much of it has been eaten already, the NOS reported.

Dutch officials in February raided the Selten meat processing plant in the south of the Netherlands on suspicion that it was mixing horsemeat with beef and selling it as pure beef.

Since the problem was first discovered in Ireland in January, governments have scrambled to figure out how and where the mislabelling of meat happened in the sprawling chain of production spanning abattoirs and meat suppliers across Europe.

- additional reporting from AFP

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About the author:

Hugh O'Connell

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