Irish company kept horsemeat secret

March 20, 2013

According to the Financial Times, an Irish meat plant uncovered several cases of contamination of its beef supplies with horse meat from June 2012 but kept it secret until February 2013. This information was discovered during the investigation by the Ireland’s Ministry for Agriculture, Food, and the Marine, and detailed in a report released in March.

QK Meats, a meat processor based just outside Dublin, Ireland, continued to order beef from its Polish suppliers in spite of positive DNA tests for horsemeat carried out in October, November, and December 2012 and January 2013. The company claims none of the contaminated beef entered the food chain. However, on March 5 Birds Eye identified QK Meats as the source of beef contaminated with horsemeat that was found in spaghetti and lasagna product. The report says the beef trimmings sourced in Poland by QK Meats were €400 cheaper than equivalent products in Ireland.

According to the report: “This failure on the part of QK Meats senior management showed scant regard for the public good and was a serious failure of judgment on its part in not revealing to the official authorities information that could have shortened the initial phase of the investigation in identifying the likely source of the equine DNA. The plant remains under investigation.”

The report recommends that European regulations on identification and traceability should be reviewed and that it be a requirement across the EU for food business operators to inform authorities about mislabeling. New rules forcing meat traders to register as food business operators will also be introduced in Ireland.

Financial Times article

Report (pdf)