* Burger King chain drops Irish food firm
* UK and Irish industry reeling from horsemeat scandal
* Fallout puts pressure on Irish government
By Kate Holton and Stephen Mangan
LONDON/DUBLIN, Jan 24 Burger King, one
of the most popular fast-food chains in Britain and Ireland,
said on Thursday it had stopped using one of the firms caught up
in the scandal of supplying grocers with beef that contained
The British food industry has been rocked by the revelation
last week that retailers including market leader Tesco
and smaller chains Aldi, Lidl and Iceland
had sold beef products that contained horse meat.
The scandal has left Ireland's 2 billion euros ($2.6
billion) beef industry, which accounts for 21 percent of all of
the country's food and drink exports, reeling from the first
major knock-on effect from the discovery.
Food safety experts say horse meat poses no added health
risks to consumers, but the discovery has raised concerns about
the food supply chain and the ability to trace meat ingredients.
On its website, Burger King said it had decided to replace
all Silvercrest products in Britain and Ireland with products
from another approved Burger King supplier.
"This is a voluntary and precautionary measure," Burger
King, famed for its flame-grilled burgers, said. "We are working
diligently to identify suppliers that can produce 100 percent
pure Irish and British beef products that meet our high quality
The beef burger products from the grocers, which were
revealed last week to have tested positive for horse DNA, were
produced in processing plants by Liffey Meats and Silvercrest
Foods in Ireland and Dalepak Hambleton in Britain.
The authority responsible for food safety in Ireland said
Burger King was still interested in sourcing beef from
alternative Irish producers, which still had the capacity to
take on large contracts.
"Burger King has said they're looking at other Irish sources
to try and source and replace this," John Bryan, president of
the Food Safety Authority of Ireland (FSAI) told Ireland's state
broadcaster, RTE, on Thursday.
"Several of them would have the capacity to take up an 8,000
tonne burger contract and there would be plenty of availability
of meat to fill this contract," he said.
The exact figures on Burger King's contract with Silvercrest
are not clear.
Ireland's agriculture minister Simon Coveney, under pressure
to stem the flight of customers of Irish meat, said Burger King
wanted to source beef from Britain and Ireland.
"Burger King have said that they do want to source beef from
Britain and Ireland because they realise the high standards
here," he told RTE radio on Thursday.
Ireland's Prime Minister Enda Kenny said at the weekend he
was "not satisfied" that the government had got to the bottom of
how nine out of 13 burgers from the plant tested positive for
traces of horse meat in a set of DNA tests.
Tesco, Britain's biggest retailer, last week withdrew from
sale all products from its supplier, Silvercrest, which is owned
by Ireland-based ABP Food Group, saying it was working with
authorities and the supplier to urgently understand how horse
meat came to be in the product.
ABP Foods said at the time that the source of the
contamination was a beef based product bought from two
third-party suppliers outside of Ireland.
A Tesco Everyday Value burger made at the Silvercrest plant
was found to contain 29 percent horse meat when tested.
The discovery of horse meat could be both embarrassing and
damaging for the retailers involved. The mass-selling Sun
newspaper carried the Burger King announcement on its front page
on Thursday with the headline "Shergar King", in reference to a
famous racehorse that was kidnapped and never seen again.
The value of Ireland's food and drink exports is about 9
billion euros, representing 6 percent of the amount of goods and
services produced and 10 percent of all Irish exports.