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ABP Food Group "bitterly disappointed" by Coveney horsemeat statement

Also today, QK Meats apologised for not contacting the Department of Agriculture about horsemeat found at its plant last year.

Horseshoe prints
Horseshoe prints
Image: Keith Srakocic/AP/Press Association Images

AS THE HORSEMEAT scandal continues, two food companies have commented on yesterday’s report from the Minister for Agriculture, Simon Coveney.

QK Meats has stated that it never knowingly incorporated horsemeat into beef, while the ABP Food Group described itself as “bitterly disappointed” by Minister Coveney’s statement to Dáil Eireann yesterday and certain references to the company in his report.

Its statement, ABP Group said that it operates “to the very highest standards of management and governance, but the controls in the case of Silvercrest let the company down”.

The company has already apologised to its customers and stakeholders for these shortcomings. It described itself as “the victim of the wide-scale European equine fraud” and said the cost “has been considerable” but that it has acted since the emergence of this issue:

in an entirely appropriate fashion, having co-operated fully with the Minister’s Department; implemented the voluntary withdrawal of 10 million burgers from the market; suspended production at Silvercrest; as well as the other operational changes the company has already outlined. In particular, at an early point the Group disbanded the frozen division that Silvercrest reported into.

The company does welcome the acknowledgement in the report that its plant at Nenagh was not the source of the meat containing equine DNA in a bolognese product sold in the UK.

ABP Food Group said it also finds yesterday’s report regarding another Irish food company, QK Meats, “extraordinary”.

QK Meats

It emerged yesterday that QK meats tested for horse DNA in June 2012, and got positive results. Minister for Agriculture Simon Coveney said yesterday that certain practices by Silvercrest and QK Cold Stores (QK Meats) were “totally unacceptable”.

QK Meats said today that the quality and safety of its products is of the utmost importance to it, and that it “has an exemplary record in terms of food quality and safety standards”.

QK Meats said today that it has been cooperating closely with the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine in its investigation into the horsemeat issue, and continues to assist the department.

QK Meats has never knowingly incorporated horsemeat into any of its beef products.

It said that in 2012, QK Meats had purchased a number of beef consignments from fully approved EU licensed suppliers in Poland. Following concern about a batch of product in June 2012, the company introduced a system of testing.

Any product that tested positive was immediately isolated and either returned to the supplier or detained in quarantine at our premises. QK Meats can categorically state that it did not introduce any product that tested positive into the food chain.
The actions we took at the time, we believed were correct, in compliance with our regulatory obligations and fully protected the public interest by ensuring the product did not enter the food chain.
We believe that we acted in good faith in dealing with the matters as they arose. The Minister has confirmed today that QK Meats has broken no laws. As events subsequently transpired however, it is now clear that our actions fell short, specifically in not contacting the Department sooner. We have apologised to the Department for this, deeply regret it and any breach of trust which it has caused given our commitment to food quality and safety.

QK Meats concluded that it has launched a full investigation into all events surrounding the issue and “will take every step possible to restore confidence in the robustness of our systems and procedures”.

Read: ‘We have a right to expect better’ – Coveney on the horsemeat saga>

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