Tesco has recalled some ranges of burgers in Ireland and the UK after food safety officials reported finding traces of horse meat in samples on sale in its stores, as well as in other retailers’ outlets.

Horse meat DNA was present in ten out of 27 beef burger products analysed by the Food Safety Authority of Ireland (FSAI). It named Tesco, Aldi, Lidl, Iceland and Dunnes Stores as affected by what has the potential to be a damaging investigation for those retailers’ public image.

FSAI said that nine out of the ten burger samples that tested ‘positive’ showed horse meat DNA at very low levels. However, it said one sample from Tesco showed horse meat accounted for around 29% of the product’s beef content.

In a statement issued last night (15 January), Tesco’s group technical director, Tim Smith, said the affected samples were two frozen beer burger products on sale at stores in the UK and Ireland. “We immediately withdrew from sale all products from the supplier in question,” he said.

While Smith stressed that there were no public health concerns, he added: “We are working with the authorities in Ireland and the UK, and with the supplier concerned, to urgently understand how this has happened and how to ensure it does not happen again.

“We will not take any products from this site until the conclusion and satisfactory resolution of an investigation.

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“The safety and quality of our food is of the highest importance to Tesco. We will not tolerate any compromise in the quality of the food we sell.”

FSAI said that it has traced the beef burger products affected to the Liffey Meats and Silvercrest Foods processing plants in Ireland and the Dalepak Hambleton plant in the UK.

FSAI CEO, Prof. Alan Reilly, said: “There is no clear explanation at this time for the presence of horse DNA in products emanating from meat plants that do not use horsemeat in their production process.”