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Update: Tesco drops Silvercrest burgers because of horse DNA controversy

The retailer said the “breach of trust” was too great to ignore as Silvercrest used product that did not come from a list of approved suppliers.

Image: Beef Burgers Cooking via Shutterstock

RETAIL GIANT TESCO has said it will no longer take products from Silvercrest, the firm at the centre of the recent horse DNA scandal.

It is understood the contract is worth about €15 million to the Monaghan plant.

In a strongly-worded statement this morning, Tesco’s Group Technical Director Tim Smith said the decision was taken with regret but explained “the breach of trust is simply too great”.

He said that the company had been working for the past two weeks to examine how horse DNA had been discovered in three frozen beef burger lines.

“We made a commitment to customers to investigate thoroughly and share the findings with them,” continued Smith. “Since then, we have been working hard to understand what happened and how we can stop it ever happening again.

We now understand – with as much certainty as possible – what happened. The evidence tells us that our frozen burger supplier, Silvercrest, used meat in our products that did not come from the list of approved suppliers we gave them. Nor was the meat from the UK or Ireland, despite our instruction that only beef from the UK and Ireland should be used in our frozen beef burgers. Consequently we have decided not to take products from that supplier in future.

Tesco said that it will not be taking “anything for granted” after this incident, despite its “well-equipped, expert technical team and world-class checks”.

“It has shown that, in spite of our stringent tests, checks and controls there remained a small possibility that something could go wrong and it did. We want to stop it ever happening again, so we are taking action to reduce that possibility still further.”

A comprehensive system of DNA testing across meat products has now been established.

ABP Food Group, Silvercrest’s parent firm, confirmed at the weekend that the contamination originated from third-party supply from Poland.

Commitment to Ireland

In a secondary statement, Tesco Ireland’s CEO Tony Keohane said the retailer remains committed to the domestic food and drink industry, adding that there are plans to open discussions with other Irish beef processors in relation to the sourcing of frozen burgers in the near future.

“Our buying of Irish beef amounts to €177 million a year and will continue,” he said. “The change in our buying relates only to frozen burgers from the Silvercrest plant which is valued at €15 million a year.

“We continue to purchase fresh Irish beef worth more than €100 million a year from other ABP companies.”

Read: Horse DNA came from burger additive sourced in Poland

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