Horsemeat row: Aldi is latest to drop Silvercrest

Silvercrest headquarters in Irish Republic Aldi has joined Tesco and the Co-Op in dropping Silvercrest as a burger supplier

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Aldi has become the latest major supermarket to withdraw a frozen burger contract with an Irish Republic food supplier linked to the horsemeat row.

Large amounts of horsemeat were found in some burger samples manufactured at the Silvercrest plant in County Monaghan, which supplied Aldi Ireland.

Both Tesco and the Co-op have already dropped Silvercrest as a meat supplier.

Aldi UK has suspended its contract with British firm Dalepak after traces of horse DNA were found in its burgers.

Both Dalepak - based near Northallerton in North Yorkshire - and Silvercrest are part of the ABP Food Group.

Further tests are under way at Dalepak, which supplies Aldi's UK stores.

'Serious breach'

In Ireland, Aldi sold a Bord Bia (Irish Food Board) approved Oakhurst 100% Irish beefburger eight pack, which has been withdrawn from sale.

In a statement, Aldi Ireland said it was necessary to terminate its contract with Silvercrest "due to a serious breach of contract".

"An internal Aldi investigation into the matter is ongoing," it said.

In the UK, three Aldi burger products - frozen Oakhurst 100% beef quarterpounders, frozen specially-selected Aberdeen Angus quarterpounders and frozen Oakhurst beefburgers (16 pack) - were withdrawn when the horsemeat discovery was made public.

Aldi UK said it commissioned its own "independent DNA testing" of products produced by the Dalepak factory. Three samples of each burger types were tested.

Aldi found that, in one of sample taken from each burger type, a 0.1% trace of either pig or horse DNA was found.

A spokesman for the chain said: "We are deeply angry and feel let down by our supplier and we are pursuing more tests [at Dalepak] until we are certain that we understand how the production line was contaminated."

Meanwhile, Burger King has said "very small trace levels of equine DNA" were found in four samples of meat for its burgers taken at the Silvercrest plant.

But the fast food giant said this product was not sold to its sites and tests on food at its restaurants found no equine DNA.

Burger King announced last week that it would stop using Silvercrest products as a precaution.

It said it had now dropped Silvercrest as a supplier, as it had provided the fast food giant with a "small percentage of beef imported from a non-approved supplier in Poland... the same company identified by the Irish Department of Agriculture as the source of Silvercrest's contamination issue."

It said Silvercrest's failure to deliver 100% British and Irish beef patties was a "clear violation of our specifications" and in breach of its contract.

On Wednesday, the Co-operative Group revealed independent tests of its own-brand burgers supplied by Silvercrest found traces of less than 1% horse DNA in three samples, and more than 17% in one sample.

The affected products have been withdrawn from sale, and the Co-Op followed Tesco in "delisting" Silvercrest as a frozen burger supplier.

The latest developments come after revelations earlier this month that Irish food inspectors had found almost 30% horsemeat in one brand of burgers sold by Tesco.

Traces of both horse and pig DNA were also found in frozen value beefburgers sold by Iceland, Lidl and Aldi and Dunnes.

On Wednesday, the UK Food Standards Agency said that food standards authorities in the Irish Republic were certain that horsemeat found in the beefburgers came from Poland.

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