Analysis of the Meat Scandal

The 2013 meat adulteration scandal is ongoing in Europe; foods advertised as containing beef were found to contain undeclared horse meat, as much as 100% of the meat content in some cases,[1] and other undeclared meats, such as pork. [2] The issue came to light on 15 January 2013, when it was reported that horse DNA had been discovered in frozen beefburgers sold in several Irish and British supermarkets. While horse meat is not harmful to health and is eaten in many countries, it is considered a taboo food in many countries, including the UK and Ireland.The analysis stated that 23 out of 27 samples of beef burgers also contained pig DNA, which is a taboo food to the Muslim and Jewish communities.

[3] While not a direct food safety issue, the scandal revealed a major breakdown in the traceability of the food supply chain, and therefore some risk that harmful ingredients were included as well. Sports horses for instance could have entered the food supply chain, and with them the veterinary drug phenylbutazone which is banned in food animals.The scandal has since spread to 13 other European countries and European authorities have decided to find an EU-wide solution. They initiated meat testing of about 4,000 horse meat samples for the veterinary drug. The EU Recommendation on Labelling the Origin of Processed Meat will be published as soon as possible.

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[4] Investigations by the Food Safety Authority of Ireland (FSAI) resulted in Ireland being the first EU state to report the presence of horse meat in beef and make public the results. [5] The first positive test for equine DNA was on 10 December 2012. 6] It carried out additional tests on 18 and 21 December. [6] The FSAI then sent samples to the Eurofins laboratory in Germany. Professor Alan Reilly of the FSAI testified to the Oireachtas on 5 February 2013 that the results indicated the presence of equine DNA, but not the amount.

The IdentiGen Laboratory and the Eurofins Laboratory were asked to determine the amount of horse meat in the samples. [6] On 21 December 2012, the FSAI requested that the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine in Ireland obtain further samples. 6] These were sent to the Identigen laboratory on 4 January 2013. [6] Results were received back from Eurofins and Identigen on 11 January 2013. [6] Professor Reilly reported on 5 February that ‘quantitative results from Identigen were received by the FSAI late on the evening of 11 January 2013.

Of the ten burger products that tested positive for equine DNA, all but one was at low levels. The quantification of the equine DNA in this one burger product gave an estimated amount of 29% equine DNA relative to the beef DNA content of the burger product.This product was manufactured by Silvercrest on behalf of Tesco. At this point, there was no explanation for the finding of 29% equine DNA relative to beef DNA in this single sample. [6] On 14 January 2013 the FSAI informed the Department of Health and the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine of the final results.

On the same day it also informed the Food Standards Agency in the United Kingdom. The next day, 15 January 2013, the FSAI advised the five retailers concerned, Tesco, Dunnes Stores, Aldi, Lidl and Iceland, of their findings;[6] all these firms withdrew the offending products. 6] The media and newspapers of the 16 January 2013 led with the story, focusing on the one burger which tested positive for 29% equine DNA. [7][8] Test results Of 27 beef burger products tested, 37% were positive for horse DNA, and 85% were positive for pig DNA. Of 31 beef meal products tested, 21 were positive for pig DNA but all were negative for horse DNA.

19 salami products were tested but were negative for all foreign DNA. [9] Of the 37% of beef products tested positive for horse DNA, Tesco’s inexpensive Everyday Value Beef Burgers tested at 29. 1%.All other reported brands had less than 0. 3% horse DNA.

These products originated from Liffey Meats and Silvercrest Foods in Ireland and Dalepak Hambleton food processing plant in the United Kingdom. Trace amounts of horse DNA were also found in raw ingredients imported from Spain and the Netherlands. [10] Laboratory DNA investigations were requested by the authorities into possible donkey meat adulteration of minced meat products labelled as 100% beef. [11] ABP Food Group ABP Food Group Logo By 16 February 2013 four subsidiaries of ABP had been accused of supplying dulterated meat. They were Silvercrest in County Monaghan, Dalepak in North Yorkshire, Freshlink in Glasgow and ABP Nenagh in County Tipperary, Ireland.

Hamburger meat from Silvercrest Foods, a subsidiary of Larry Goodman’s ABP Food Group, in County Monaghan, Ireland, was found to contain 29% horse meat relative to beef. Porcine DNA was also found. [2] Tesco dropped Silvercrest as a supplier of processed meat, but ABP said that it “welcomed their decision to continue sourcing fresh beef from other ABP companies”. 12] On 15 February 2013 Tesco said, “We will no longer work with the suppliers who fell below our very high standards. “[13] The first apparent instance of fresh beef being adulterated with horse meat was reported by Asda, which removed its 500-gram own-label beef Bolognese sauce from sale.

[14] The sauce was supplied by Greencore, which said in a statement that the meat in the sauce had been supplied by ABP Food Group’s Nenagh plant in County Tipperary, Ireland. 15] On 4 March 2013 Greencore announced [16] that “multiple further tests for the presence of equine DNA on the same batch of the same product using both screening and quantitative tests (in line with FSA testing protocols) at two different, independent accredited laboratories have all produced negative results” and “an extensive programme of testing of other finished product and raw material at the Bristol facility has produced negative results for the presence of equine DNA. The investigation of the overall incident, overseen by an independent expert… ncluded an audit of ABP Food Group’s plant in Nenagh, Ireland.

.. found no evidence of contamination in the supply chain. ” Burger King, which has more than 500 fast food outlets in Ireland and the UK, dropped Silvercrest as a supplier,[17] using suppliers in Germany and Italy instead,[18] after horse meat was found in their supply chain. [19] Waitrose removed beef meatballs from sale when it found that they contained pork.

The meatballs were manufactured by an ABP factory in Glasgow. Waitrose, part of John Lewis, said it would be creating a new facility to supply its own beef products. [20]Tesco, the Co-operative Group and Aldi also cancelled contracts with ABP Food Group because of the adulteration. [21][22][23] Food wholesaler Makro, supplier to the restaurant and pub industry,[24] announced that some of its frozen burgers supplied by Silvercrest tested positive for horse DNA. A spokesman said that Makro no longer sold the product in question. [25] Spanghero On 14 February 2013, the French government stated that French meat processing company A la Table de Spanghero knowingly sold horse meat labelled as beef, and that their licence was suspended while an inquiry continues.

26] Spanghero imported meat from Romania and sold it on to another French company, Comigel, which made frozen ready meals at its factory in Luxembourg. French Consumer Affairs Minister Benoit Hamon said the meat had left Romania clearly and correctly labelled as horse and that it was afterwards that it was relabelled as beef by Spanghero. [26] The investigation also said some blame may rest with Comigel, claiming the staff there should have noticed anomalies in the paperwork, and realized from the smell and look of the meat once it was defrosted that it was not beef. [26] ComigelOn 7 February 2013, Findus announced that in a sample of 18 beef lasagne products that it tested, 11 contained between 60% and 100% horse meat. [27] It was also revealed that some of the products sold had minced meat declared as beef that was 60–100% horse meat.

[28] The source of the horse meat was third party supplier Comigel, a French-headquartered frozen ready meal producer, from its subsidiary Tavola factory in Capellen, Luxembourg. According to the FSA the company had been alerted by a third-party French supplier on 4 February 2013, and tested its beef lasagne products finding over 50% of the tested products contained horse meat.According to reports both Findus UK and the French supplier withdrew all products related to the third party supplier. The reason for the adulteration was initially stated as “highly likely” criminal activity. [29] The president of Comigel, Erick Lehagre, told Agence France-Presse that the adulterated meat supplier was Spanghero, a firm owned by Lur Berri[30] and founded in 1970 by Claude and Laurent Spanghero, two former France international rugby players.

[31] He said that Spanghero had told him that the meat was not from France, but came from a producer in Romania. 32] On 11 February 2013 France’s Consumer Affairs Minister Benoit Hamon warned it “will not hesitate” to take legal action if there is evidence companies had knowingly duped consumers. Hamon said an initial investigation by French safety authorities had found a French company Poujol (Spanghero’s holding company) bought frozen meat from a Cypriot trader. That trader had bought it from Dutch food supplier Draap (the Dutch word for horse, Paard spelled backwards), owned by Jan Fasen, who was previously convicted for horse meat fraud in 2007. [33] Draap, in turn, bought it from two Romanian slaughterhouses. 33] Poujol then supplied a factory in Luxembourg, owned by Comigel, which then supplied Findus and the British supermarkets.

The Romanian government has stated that there are no contracts between the Romanian abattoirs and any French, Cypriot or Dutch meat processors. [34] On 8 February 2013, Findus announced that it would no longer accept meat from Comigel, and stopped further deliveries of the product in question. On the same day, Findus UK published a public apology on its website, also announcing that, following DNA testing, three of its products were found to contain horse tissue.These are the 320, 350 and 500 gram packages of Findus Beef Lasagne; the company offered a refund for products purchased. [35] Findus Sverige AB also announced a recall of its 375 gram packs of ready-made single-portion lasagne (code 63957), and published a contact number for customers who had already purchased the products.

[36] On 8 February 2013 supermarket chain Aldi announced that it would withdraw from sale Today’s Special Frozen Beef Lasagne and Today’s Special Frozen Spaghetti Bolognese, supplied by Comigel, after tests found the meat content to be between 30 and 100% horse.