'HORSE BEEF’ PROBE CONTINUES

15 February 2013 No Comments by The Northern Standard

THE Department of Agriculture confirmed yesterday (Wed) that extensive investigations are still ongoing across Europe into the source of the horse DNA in meat products supplied from Irish firms, including Silvercrest at Ballybay.

The discovery led to the withdrawal of contracts by a number of supermarkets and fast-food chains in recent weeks.

Meanwhile, Rangeland Meats at Lough Egish recommenced production after receiving clearance from the Department of Agriculture, with officials establishing that a consignment of Polish meat, containing the horse DNA, which was delivered to the company, was not processed.

In a statement, Rangeland confirmed it had alerted the Department and voluntarily halted production.

Mr. Jim Lucey, who is CEO of Rangeland, has stated he believed the company was the “victim” of reputational damage as a result of fraud but they were determined to safeguard the sixty-plus jobs of their employees in the area.

Rangeland has also sent a circular to its customers expressing regret for any inconvenience as a result of the contamination issue, but assuring them that Rangeland “uses only quality Irish beef in all its products on sale in the Irish market”.

The company has also revealed that more than 60 per cent of Rangeland’s production is for export, and it was due to an inability to provide an assured supply to European outlets that they had imported, what they believed was quality beef, until they became aware, through tests carried out on three samples which were not processed, that there was an equine DNA content.

BALLYBAY PLANT
Meanwhile, daily DNA testing is being required at the Silvercrest plant in Ballybay, which was expected to reopen shortly, and the jobs of 140 workers safeguarded.

It was reported earlier this week that the company might not, however, initially engage in burger production, but may concentrate in another area of meat processing.

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