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Coveney takes immediate action to reassure consumers following FSAI Survey Results - Thorough Investigation Underway

The Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine Simon Coveney TD, this evening confirmed that since early this morning a full investigation is underway by his Department. This follows from confirmation of the results of a FSAI snapshot survey to examine the authenticity of the ingredients declared in the labelling of some beef based products retailing in Ireland. The survey result showed that in one particular sample tested, there was evidence of the presence of equine DNA at a high level in frozen beef burgers. The Minister said that the FSAI has made clear that there is no food safety implication to this finding although it does raise concerns about the proper labelling and sourcing of food ingredients.

While the FSAI sampled a range of products, other than this particular sample, only miniscule amounts of porcine and equine DNA were detected. In the single case where the equine DNA finding was high, some 29% of equine DNA was present in the meat content of the sample as opposed to the total ingredient content of the sample.

The Minister confirmed that on receipt of this information from the FSAI, his Department immediately commenced an investigation in the particular plant where the higher findings were detected to determine the source of the equine products.  That investigation is ongoing but is focussing on the individual ingredients used in the manufacture of the affected batch. A number of these individual ingredients were imported into the State. The Minister stated that to date there was no evidence from the investigation being conducted to show that the manufacturer knowingly brought in equine meat for use in the production of these burgers. However, the investigation will establish the source of the equine DNA.

The Minister said he fully understands the reasons why retailers have removed the affected products from their shelves but nonetheless stated that he fully concurred with the FSAI statement that there was no food safety risk and consumers should not be concerned in that regard. In reiterating that there is no food safety risk for consumers the Minister said he is determined to establish all the facts in order to ensure that there is no question mark about the quality of beef products from Ireland.  The Minister said that there is no evidence currently available to suggest that this particular finding is anything other than an isolated case and that his officials will establish the position quickly in order to reassure consumers and retailers.


Date Released: 16 January 2013