Tesco drops Irish beef burger supplier

LONDON Wed Jan 30, 2013 4:34am EST

LONDON Jan 30 (Reuters) - Tesco, Britain's biggest retailer, said on Wednesday it had dropped the Irish supplier of frozen beef burgers that sparked a scandal by testing positive for horse DNA.

Tesco said it would not take any more products from Silvercrest, a unit of ABP Food Group, and said it would now introduce a comprehensive system of DNA testing across its meat products.

There was no immediate response for a request for comment from ABP.

The retailer said its investigation concluded that Silvercrest used meat in Tesco products that did not come from a list of approved suppliers it gave the firm, nor was the meat from the UK or Ireland, despite an instruction that only beef from the UK and Ireland should be used in Tesco frozen beef burgers.

"Consequently we have decided not to take products from that supplier in future," said Tim Smith, Tesco's group technical director. "We took that decision with regret but the breach of trust is simply too great."

Ireland's agriculture department said on Saturday that beef containing horse DNA supplied by Silvercrest to retailers had originated in Poland.

After that statement ABP said it had never knowingly sold equine products.

The issue around food products first appeared on Jan. 15 when the Food Safety Authority of Ireland (FSAI) said it had found horse DNA in beef burger products sold by Tesco in the UK and Ireland.

The FSAI said beef burgers sold at Dunnes Stores, Lidl, Aldi and Iceland were also discovered to contain horse DNA.

It said most of the affected burgers contained very low levels of horse DNA, but in one Tesco sample horse meat accounted for about 29 percent relative to the beef content.

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