Horsemeat scandal: Tesco drops supplier over horsemeat in value burgers


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Meat in Tesco burgers which was found to contain horse DNA did not come from a list of "approved suppliers", the supermarket chain has claimed.

The retailer has dropped Silvercrest, part of the ABP Food Group, as a supplier, saying the "breach of trust [was] simply too great".

Tesco said it would introduce a DNA testing system for meat products to "ensure the quality" of its goods.

ABP said it had "let customers down" and apologised for the failures.

An internal investigation by Tesco also found meat used by at the Silvercrest facility in County Monaghan, in the Republic of Ireland, originated from outside the UK and Ireland, contrary to the supermarket chain's policy.

Horse and pig DNA was also found by Ireland's food safety authority (FSAI) in value burgers sold by Lidl, Aldi, Iceland and Dunnes Stores.

'New standard'

Tim Smith, group technical director at Tesco, said the supermarket would introduce a "comprehensive system of DNA testing across our meat products" to stop horsemeat from entering the food chain again.

Start Quote

We have also established comprehensive DNA testing procedures - we will become an industry leader in this area”

End Quote Paul Finnerty Chief executive, ABP Food Group

"Ultimately Tesco is responsible for the food we sell, so it is not enough just to stop using the supplier," he said in a statement.

"These checks will set a new standard. It will be a significant investment for Tesco, borne by Tesco.

"We want to leave customers in no doubt that we will do whatever it takes to ensure the quality of their food and that the food they buy is exactly what the label says it is."

In response, Paul Finnerty, chief executive of ABP Food Group, said the firm had "learnt important lessons" and was "determined to ensure this never happens again".

He added: "We have put in place new procedures to audit all our third party suppliers. We have also established comprehensive DNA testing procedures - we will become an industry leader in this area."

He said Silvercrest remained closed and the management had been changed.

Tesco's planned DNA checks were welcomed by MPs during a Westminster Hall debate on Wednesday morning.

Environment Minister David Heath said supermarkets had a legal and moral responsibility to ensure they know where their products come from.

"Certainly there is the suggestion from Tesco today in this case their supplier had been using produce from a non-registered, a non-approved forward supplier," he said.

"That must be of concern to them in their regulation of their food supply chain."

'Unreserved apology'

Shadow environment minister Huw Irranca-Davies also approved of the move, insisting that food checks "need to be far more rigorous" than in the past.

Tesco issued an "unreserved apology" in full-page spreads of several UK newspapers on 16 January in the wake of the scandal.

In one sample from a Tesco beefburger, horsemeat accounted for approximately 29% of the meat content, the FSAI said.

Tesco withdrew the affected products from sale. They included its Tesco Everyday Value 8 x Frozen Beef Burgers (397g), Tesco 4 x Frozen Beef Quarter Pounders (454g) and a branded product, Flamehouse Frozen Chargrilled Quarter Pounders.

In total, about 10 million value beefburgers were withdrawn from sale across all of the supermarket chains implicated.

The environment food and rural affairs committee is due to hear evidence from the government, Tesco and the Food Standards Agency on Wednesday.


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  • rate this

    Comment number 547.

    I simply fail to see what the problem is. Particularly when you see the garbage that goes into food by way of rendered, reconstituted and mechanically reclaimed meat. Pet food manufacturers by way of contrast, exercise far stricter control over their products than those prescribed for human food. Ironic?, I would say so.

  • rate this

    Comment number 546.

    If someone offered me a horse burger I'd probably eat it. It's the choice part that's the key though, obviously. Food should always be labeled properly and have massively high standards at production level.

    We never know what we're eating though. A friend worked in a cake factory and still won't eat cakes years later as he "knows what happens to them."

  • rate this

    Comment number 545.

    It is not merely a question of horse-meat. I for one o NOT want to eat meat from animal slaughtered according or Jewish rituals and I do not want to eat Beef. I would want the method of slaughter to be on the label and I would want the label to state clearly, the animal species from hitch the meat AND the casing is derived.

  • rate this

    Comment number 544.

    Indeed, seeing how much corporations go to to save a buck, perhaps we really should go back to the old local grocers, butchers etc. Being local the cost of delivery would be a lot lower and we would have much less waste as you wouldnt need a tonne of packaging.

  • rate this

    Comment number 543.

    Where was Tesco's quality control in the first place?

    Right at the bottom of Tesco's list of priorities with PROFIT at the very top.

  • rate this

    Comment number 542.

    Jamie Oliver and Hugh Fern.......whatever will be loving this, proves that you should be buying local and knowing where the produce comes from.I dont think anyone buying these type of burgers can complain, by the very nature of the purchase, if you buy "value, frozen burgers" you really cant care much about what you eat. Please no "some people cant afford blah blah", its burgers for F sake.

  • rate this

    Comment number 541.

    who cares? if the food tastes ok and I don't die, I really don't care which animal it came from

  • rate this

    Comment number 540.

    Irrespective of standards and regulations (they are not fool proof) if you want to know what you’re eating, mince it yourself or get your butcher to do it in front of you.

  • rate this

    Comment number 539.

    Does it taste good ? Is it cheap ? Is it fit for human consumption ?

    The three questions any parent will or should be asking, if it fails on any of the above, then it should not be on the shelves of any store, anywhere.

  • rate this

    Comment number 538.

    If anyone in the food industry thinks a re-branding strategy might be necessary to restore customer confidence,how about...

    'Champion Value Range.'


  • rate this

    Comment number 537.

    528. Fergee
    I have to strongly disagree with you. If somebody tells me my food is beef, regardless of its cost, and it turns out to be something else then that is fraud and needs to be challenged in court.
    Though I dislike Tesco they have been wronged. I hope they take this company to court and the company get a huge fine that will put off any other companies from corrupting the food chain.

  • rate this

    Comment number 536.

    Direct your anger to the right place. Who was it that sourced the animals and put them in the processing plants and presumably falsified paperwork to make it look like beef. This is criminal, not simple mislabelling. Pets, road kill, chemicals - what else is in there?!

  • Comment number 535.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • rate this

    Comment number 534.

    @Shazzle. It appears that you can lead a horse to slaughter but you can't make it think. You can make it into burgers though.
    Some people miss the point, it isn't the product, it is the lies and the penny pinching. What if it had been rat or mouse, would they still be asking what the fuss is about?

  • Comment number 533.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • rate this

    Comment number 532.

    Horse meat like ostrich meat whale meat or squirrel meat is a niche market in this country and I believe should remain so. As for horse meat being healthier than beef so is venison, yet we don't see the supermarkets use that in meat products. I'm sure most consumers would find venison far more acceptable than horse meat. Horse meat may be more acceptable on the continent, It should stay that way.

  • rate this

    Comment number 531.

    It's all well and good saying they will DNA test food. What they won't say is how long horse was in their food products, what contaminants it contained and how long we were exposed to it. Horses are treated with drugs not fit for humans such as phenylbutazone that causes cancer and Danazol that deforms babies. Tesco are deleting comments off their Facebook page so it's obviously a major issue.

  • rate this

    Comment number 530.

    And how much do we pay for all this food regulation which suppossed to prevent this happening in the first place?

    All I know is a minority few rich wealthy individuals are very rich from screwing the public over combined with their sheer incompetence.

  • rate this

    Comment number 529.

    468.Giles Jones

    You are something that the BBC mods would not allow to display. Perhaps you should do a little research into the effects of phenylbutazone on humans, work out the level at which it is consumed (how many mg per g of horse meat and how much g of horse meat per burger) then you would discover that it will not give you cancer or any ill effects. Standing in the sun does more damage

  • rate this

    Comment number 528.

    If you keep squeezing suppliers for savings then this is always going to happen. So many of us complain about the decline of the high street and the rise of the supermarket, but still we continue to buy cheaper and cheaper from them. You only need look in the mirror for the root cause of the british high street and farming decline.


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