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EU horsemeat tests put Ireland in the clear

All beef samples tested negative for horse DNA though one horse carcase was found to have traces of bute and is now under investigation.

TEST RESULTS PUBLISHED by the European Commission today have given Ireland the all clear with samples of beef products testing negative for horsemeat.

The commission proposed the EU testing programme in February shortly after the scandal broke, testing 4,144 samples of beef for horse DNA across the EU with 193 testing positive. However the results show that all 50 DNA tests carried out on Irish beef were negative.

There were 7,951 tests for equine DNA carried out by food business operators, of which 110 were positive. Though 32 of these in Ireland were positive, representing nine products, all were published previously and have since been withdrawn from the market.

Tests for the horse painkiller bute revealed 16 positive cases from 3,115 tests with one positive in Ireland out of 840. The Department of Agriculture said that the carcase concerned was destroyed and the case is under investigation.

On a European scale, almost one in 20 meals marketed as beef were likely to be tainted with horse. France fared the worst with a total of 47 cases of equine DNA found in beef products.

“Today’s findings have confirmed that this is a matter of food fraud and not of food safety,” said EU Health Commissioner Tonio Borg. “Restoring the trust and confidence of European consumers and trading partners in our food chain following this fraudulent labelling scandal is now of vital importance for the European economy given that the food sector is the largest single economic sector in the EU.”

Minister for Agriculture Simon Coveney said the level of testing in Ireland “clearly went beyond what was required at EU level and, combined with the fact that the official control regime here uncovered this problem, shows our commitment to maintaining the world-wide reputation of Irish food”.

The results published today will now be considered by the EU Standing Committee on the Food Chain and Animal Health to determine what further action is required.

- With additional reporting from AFP.

Read: Irish firm among hundreds hit by new horsemeat scandal in the Netherlands>
Read: Horsemeat scandal to play ‘significant role’ in Irish food business growth>

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