Horse meat found in hospital food in Northern Ireland

BELFAST Fri Feb 15, 2013 2:16pm EST

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BELFAST (Reuters) - Horse meat has been discovered in a batch of beef burgers supplied to hospitals in Northern Ireland, officials said on Friday.

The supplier of the hospitals, Irish food firm Rangeland Foods, said the burgers used meat from Poland and some contained between 5 percent and 30 percent horse meat.

Horse meat has been found in beef products across Europe in recent weeks, damaging confidence in the continent's vast and complex food industry.

"As soon as we got information there may be a confidence issue we withdrew the product," said David Bingham, a representative for the Business Services Organisation, which sources meat for hospitals in Northern Ireland.

Rangeland, which also supplies to the catering and wholesale sector in five other European countries, said in a statement that it had discovered equine DNA in a consignment of meat from Poland, but it said it had not entered the food chain.

A batch of burgers made by Rangeland in September and delivered to a customer in the United Kingdom also tested positive for equine DNA and was withdrawn, Rangeland said.

On Thursday burgers supplied to schools in Northern Ireland were withdrawn, though DNA tests showed they were not contaminated.

(Reporting by Ian Graham, Editing by Conor Humphries and Will Waterman)

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