HORSEMEAT: Birds Eye identifies Irish firm QK Meats as source of horse
In late February, Birds Eye pulled three beef ready meals from supermarkets in the UK and Ireland
UK frozen food firm Birds Eye has identified Irish meat processor QK Meats as the source of horsemeat in three products it withdrew last month.
In a statement today (5 March), Birds Eye said its investigations established that Dutch firm Frigilunch, that supplied the products, was itself supplied with horsemeat from County Kildare-based QK Meats. This, Birds Eye said, was one isolated source and that the company has since been suspended as a supplier of meat to the company.
All other meat suppliers to Frigilunch have been given the all clear through both Birds Eye's and Frigilunch separate testing programmes, it said.
"You can rest assured that all other suppliers to Birds Eye have also been given the all clear," the company said in a statement.
In late February, Birds Eye pulled three beef ready meals from supermarkets in the UK and Ireland as a precaution after a product it sells in Belgium tested positive for horse DNA.
The recalls followed a positive test for a chilli con carne sold and produced in Belgium by Frigilunch.
Birds Eye said it has now introduced a "triple lock" DNA testing programme that will ensure no minced beef meat product can reach supermarket shelves without first having been cleared by three stages of DNA testing.
"We are now demanding, and have agreed with all suppliers, that they DNA test all products entering their premises. They will then DNA test products leaving their premises. Birds Eye will then conduct its own DNA tests before products go to shops. We believe this triple lock DNA testing process is the leading way to do this in our industry."
QK Meats did not return a request for comment at the time of going to press.
05 March 2013 - A MESSAGE TO OUR CUSTOMERS AND CONSUMERS REGARDING HORSEMEAT
As you know, we unfortunately had to withdraw a small number of our overall beef product range from sale on the 22nd of February. We told you how sorry we were for letting you down and that we would keep you informed of what action we were taking and, once we got to the bottom of the problem, tell you how it happened.
We can now reassure you that our comprehensive DNA testing programme on all our beef meat products is complete. We have now tested all products multiple times through multiple samples over a period of 4 weeks. During this process none of our Birds Eye Beef Burgers, Beef Pies and Traditional Beef Dinners tested positive for horse DNA. In total we have tested 250 products across Europe and confirmed three products as containing horsemeat. All other products across our beef range both sold here in the UK and in our other markets in Europe have now been given the all clear and we have submitted our test results to the FSA as requested.
Tests on the Spaghetti Bolognese 340g and the Beef Lasagne 400g that we immediately took off shelves on the 22nd of February as a precaution showed that they did contain some horse DNA, so our decision to remove these products from sale was the right one. Even so, the fact there was a problem is unacceptable.
But how did this happen? Our investigation has shown that Frigilunch N.V. (who supplied these products to us) was itself supplied meat with horse in it by an Irish meat processor QK Meats. Frigilunch N.V.’s own independent tests and investigation have confirmed our findings. We have reported these findings to the FSA and Frigilunch N.V. has taken immediate action and suspended them as a supplier of meat.
All other meat suppliers to Frigilunch N.V. have been given the all clear through both Birds Eye’s and Frigilunch N.V.’s separate testing programmes.
You can rest assured that all other suppliers to Birds Eye have also been given the all clear.
We are pleased that we have now completed our investigation and been able to isolate the problem to one source. But what are we going to do going forward to avoid something like this happening again?
We have now introduced a new on-going triple lock DNA testing programme that will ensure no minced beef meat product can reach supermarket shelves without first having been cleared by three stages of DNA testing. We are now demanding, and have agreed with all suppliers, that they DNA test all products entering their premises. They will then DNA test products leaving their premises. Birds Eye will then conduct its own DNA tests before products go to shops. We believe this triple lock DNA testing process is the leading way to do this in our industry.
This means that next time you see any of our minced beef meat products on shelf/in the freezer they will have been through this triple lock testing process so you can be sure you are eating what is labelled on the pack.
We feel the same as our customers do – this should never have happened, but now that it has, it is up to us to make sure we do all we can to avoid it happening again. Aside from our triple lock DNA testing process we will be looking at what other changes we can make to our supply chain. We know that our customers expect us to maintain the highest standards and we will continue to look for new ways to do so. We will keep you informed as we progress this.
Original source: Birds Eye
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