Frozen burgers removed from NI hospitals

Published Friday, 15 February 2013
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A range of frozen beef burgers were taken off the menu in hospitals across Northern Ireland after they were found to contain traces of horse DNA.

Frozen burgers removed from NI hospitals
Agriculture minister Michelle O'Neill and Education minister John O'Dowd (© Pacemaker)

The burgers, which were produced by Rangeland Foods in the Republic of Ireland, have been taken out of the food supply system.

"We have acted immediately to remove one range of beef burger from health and social care facilities, this was on the advice of the FSA and the food supplier," said a health department spokesperson.

"We will remain vigilant as the results of further testing become available and ensure that we can maintain confidence in the food that our Trusts provide to patients and clients."

Rangeland is one of seven suppliers of frozen foods.

A Food Safety Authority of Ireland (FSAI) statement said: "The FSAI has been informed by Rangeland Foods that it is withdrawing some batches of frozen burger products from customers which contained beef supplied from Poland and have been found to contain equine DNA between 5% and 30% relative to bovine DNA.

"These burgers have been supplied to the catering and wholesale sectors and are therefore not on sale directly to the consumer."

A Rangeland spokeswoman said the affected meat from the EU was processed in September.

Rangeland has implemented a comprehensive DNA assessment of beef intake and products, and tests every batch before release to the food chain, for any trace of equine DNA.

Rangeland Foods

It comes as two Executive ministers met with Food Standard Agency officials at Loughry College in Cookstown on Friday.

Agriculture Minister Michelle O'Neill called a special meeting which only Education Minister John O'Dowd attended.

On Thursday, education boards withdrew frozen burgers from schools in Northern Ireland as a precautionary step.

"I want to show leadership on this issue because it is so important we address the issue of public confidence. The other ministers who did not turn up will have to account for themselves," Ms O'Neill said.

Meanwhile Glyn Roberts, chair of the NI Independent Retail Trade Association, has called for the Agriculture Minister to convene a round table meeting with retailers, processors, suppliers and farmers as soon as possible "to hammer out this issue".

"If we're going to solve the problem, we've got to have everybody round the table working at an agreed solution," he said.

Also on Friday farmers met with food and business bodies to try to come up with a way forward that will boost consumer confidence in the meat industry.

Harry Sinclair, of the Ulster Farmers' Union, said they have come through a very difficult year, but added that the horsemeat crisis could provide an opportunity to shorten the food chain.

Farmers are feeling very, very despondent out there at the moment. They feel the food chain is letting them down.

Harry Sinclair, UFU

Ian Stevenson, chief executive of the Livestock and Meat Commission, said they are encouraging people to look out for the Farm Quality Assurance logo.

"NI produce, we can stand over it - it has been produced on farms, processed under a whole series of rigorous assurance and integrity schemes," he said.

Meanwhile the FSA revealed on Friday that it carried out tests on 2,501 products. While 2,472 came back negative, 29 samples contained more than 1% of horsemeat.

The meat was also tested for bute, the veterinary drug Phenylbutazone which is potentially harmful to humans, but all so far have returned negative results.

But Chief Executive Catherine Brown warned the tests do not reveal the full picture.

"We expect industry to continue to supply us with regular updates on their testing regime," she said.

The FSA believe meat produce that contains more than 1% horsemeat would be "due to either gross incompetence or deliberate fraud; it's not going to be accidental".

The agency said at least 950 tests are still in progress, with more expected in the coming weeks, and they are working with trade bodies to collate the results as quickly as possible.

  • 2013
    16 January 2013
    Burgers with equine DNA traced to Silvercrest Foods & Liffey Meats in Republic.
  • 16 January 2013
    10m burgers taken off the shelves by Tesco, Lidl, Iceland & Dunnes Stores.
  • 17 January 2013
    ABP Food Group suspends work at its Silvercrest Foods plant.
  • 17 January 2013
    Sainsbury's, Asda & Co-op withdraw some frozen products as precaution.
  • 23 January 2013
    Burger King drops ABP Food Group as a supplier.
  • 25 January 2013
    Silvercrest dropped as a supplier by Tesco.
  • 30 January 2013
    Authorities in Republic believe Poland to be source of contamination.
  • 04 February 2013
    75% equine DNA found in raw ingredients at Rangeland Foods, Co Monaghan.
  • 04 February 2013
    The Republic’s Department of Agriculture calls in police.
  • 04 February 2013
    ABP Food Group estimated to have lost €45m in contracts.
  • 05 February 2013
    McAdams meat held at Freeza Meats, Newry found to contain 80% horse.
  • 05 February 2013
    Freeza Meats tell UTV they face ruin over the crisis.
  • 06 February 2013
    Tesco remove frozen meals produced by French company Comigel.
  • Thursday, 07 February 2013 12:14 AM
    Some Findus UK beef lasagnes, made by Comigel, found to contain up to 100% horse.
  • Thursday, 07 February 2013 12:15 AM
    Authorities believe "criminal activity" to blame & order beef testing.
  • Friday, 08 February 2013 12:16 AM
    Tests on Freeza Meat burgers clear. Company feels vindicated.
  • Friday, 08 February 2013 12:17 AM
    Aldi confirms two of its ready meal ranges found to contain up to 100% horse meat.
  • Monday, 11 February 2013 12:18 AM
    Environment Secretary Owen Paterson says legal action will be taken in Europe.
  • Monday, 11 February 2013 12:19 AM
    UFU says farmers in Northern Ireland feel let down by the horsemeat scandal.
  • Wednesday, 13 February 2013 12:20 AM
    EU ministers agree to random DNA testing & testing for horse drug bute.
  • Thursday, 14 February 2013 12:21 AM
    Burgers removed from all schools in NI after horse DNA found in supply chain.
  • Friday, 15 February 2013 12:22 AM
    Burgers removed from NI hospitals due to traces of horse DNA found.
  • Friday, 15 February 2013 12:23 AM
    Agriculture Minister Michelle O’Neill holds meeting with NI Executive ministers.
  • Thursday, 21 February 2013 12:24 AM
    Horse DNA found in burgers supplied to two NI agri college campuses.
  • Monday, 25 February 2013 12:25 AM
    IKEA withdraws batch of meatballs after horsemeat is found.
Horsemeat scandal
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Comments Comments
Colin in South Down wrote (715 days ago):
I must be missing something here: We eat, cow, pig, emu, buffalo, ostrich, alligator, chicken, deer, bison, to namea few. What's the issue with throwing "horse" into the mix? Is the issue rather it was being sold under false pretense, eg., "Here's your Aberdeen Angus flank steak, eat it and giddy up" or is the concern that is may be full of hormones?
Ben in Dublin wrote (716 days ago):
Id love a Big Mac now.
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