Asda withdraws NI firm's burgers

Published Wednesday, 06 February 2013
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Supermarket chain Asda has withdrawn four frozen burger products supplied by a Northern Irish company which was named in the horsemeat scandal.

Asda withdraws NI firm's burgers
Asda has removed four frozen burger products. (© Getty)

A consignment of meat being held in quarantine by Freeza Meats was tested and found to contain 80% horsemeat on Monday.

The Newry firm said it had been storing the meat, which was from Poland, in its cold store as a goodwill gesture after refusing to buy it from trader McAdam Foods, based in the Republic.

The meat never entered the local food chain.

Asda said that while no horse DNA has been found in burgers supplied by Freeza, it has taken them off the shelves as a precaution.

A statement said: "Asda sources four frozen burger products from Freeza Meats in Northern Ireland. It's important to note that both the local EHO in Northern Ireland, and our own independent DNA tests have come back free of any trace of horse meat.

As a precaution we have taken all four frozen burger products off sale produced in that factory, and have instructed Freeza Meats to segregate and hold any frozen burgers currently in production or in their supply chain destined for Asda

Asda

"Although all the science says there is no trace of horse in our burgers produced by Freeza Meats, we can't and won't take any chances when it comes to the authenticity of ingredients in our products."

The burgers removed by Asda include its four pack of 100% beef quarter pounders, four pack of beef quarter pounders, eight pack of beef burgers and four pack of big eat burgers.

Freeza Meats, which employs more than 45 people, is a specialist in burgers for the catering industry in Britain and Ireland.

Director of the family-run business, Paul Mackle, has previously told UTV he was shocked and angry about the situation, which he believes could force them to shut.

"We are still coming to terms with it," he said. "We can't believe we are in this situation through no fault of our own, doing a good turn for somebody. We made sure that it was kept separate."

Newry and Mourne District Council's Environmental Health Department confirmed the suspect meat consignment had been detained for the last five months "due to the condition of its wrapping and queries regarding its labelling and traceability".

On Tuesday John Farrell, the council's Director of Environment, Health & Building Services, said Freeza Meats was put in a difficult position "through no fault of their own".

"Freeza Meats had meat in their cold store that they could not move because we had officially detained it and it was up to us to have the meat removed to its owner, put into pet food or destroyed," he said.

Meanwhile McAdams Foods, based in Co Monaghan, said it is shocked and astonished that horsemeat was found in meat it imported, and is co-operating fully with authorities.

A company spokesman said: "The source of these products is Polish and McAdam Foods has identified the specific Polish supplier names to the Irish authorities.

"McAdam Foods is co-operating fully and willingly with the authorities.

"We are confident that the documentation and proof that we have provided to the authorities will fully exonerate our company."

It has also emerged that the Bureau of Criminal Investigation is assisting the inquiry team into the horsemeat scandal, after the Food Safety Authority said they believed there was an element of fraud surrounding the contaminated beef products.

Garda Commissioner Martin Callinan said they are not investigating anything specific at this stage but are helping the FSAI and Agriculture Department.

Mr Callinan continued: "We would hope for everybody's sake that it would be a very short investigation and that, collectively or individually, we would get to the root of the problem to deal with it as quickly as possible - that would be the desirable outcome."

Polish officials have now written to Ireland requesting proof that the contaminated produce is linked to Poland.

Dr Janusz Zwiazek, chief veterinary officer, asked for photos of labels and test results.

He said they have carried out inspections at slaughter houses and factories and found no evidence of horse DNA and said there is no evidence of falsified labels.

© UTV News
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8 Comments
Realistic 2 in Ulster wrote (569 days ago):
Yes thousands of people may die of starvation every year but so do the same numbers of people with cancers etc. Processed chicken nuggets wont contain Bute which is a well known human carcinogen and until tests results show that all the horsemeat found is free from Bute it is not safe to eat! It's funny that the Polish supplier, where the horsemeat found in Newry was supposed to have been imported from, has said in this evenings news that they don't even process horse in their factory! Somebody is telling porky pies for a reason to cover fraudulent goings on, or should that be horsey pies!
Suzie in Newry wrote (570 days ago):
Scandalous that thousands of children die each day due to starvation.. Ok so people didnt know there was horse meat in the burgers, lasagne's, ready meals etc but what is in our processed chicken nuggets we feed our children every day??? Band wagon and plenty of people on it.
Realistic 2 in Ulster wrote (571 days ago):
How can anyone say horsemeat is safe and not dangerous to human health if they dont know where it has come from in the first place!!! Phenylbutazone (bute), a known human carcinogen, happens to be the most widely administered equine pain reliever in the world !! Now I ask you, if you can't trace the meat to source and the exact animal the meat came from, how can you say it's safe to eat when you don't know what medicines the animal has ever been administered throughout its life? Not to mention the fraud aspect of this all. If I wanted to go out and buy a horse meat burger I would. And if I bought a beef burger I wouldn't expect it to contain horse! Your supposed to get what you pay for!!
realistic in planet earth wrote (572 days ago):
I wish ALL the shops would sell these burgers off, with the label 'may contain horsemeat'....... Good meat going to waste - that's a scandal!
Robert in Belfast wrote (572 days ago):
Its interesting how people are quick to say "but its only house meat"! Its only horse meat that shouldn't have been sold as beef, its only horse meat that can't been traced to source. Its only horse meat that could have been treated with unsafe for human use drug treatments. Also raises the question of quality control and general food safty. Time to bar the Supermarket chains from selling meat products, they can really be trusted.
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