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Coveney provides update on investigation into the source of Equine DNA at Silvercrest

The Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine, Simon Coveney TD today provided an update on the official investigation into the source of equine DNA at Silvercrest. The company is carrying out its own separate investigation into the incident. 

The Minister said “It is important to outline the context of the investigation; it is a very large processing facility that is producing 20,000 tonnes of burgers per annum, with a wide range of ingredients. The investigation is being carried out in a systematic fashion and this requires the correlation of all the information necessary to draw credible conclusions”. 

In excess of 130 samples of burgers and ingredients have been taken in the past week and a range of results are currently being received. These results are subject to confirmatory verification in a different laboratory and are being correlated with other results. As part of this process, some 24 preliminary results were received late last night from a laboratory in Germany and these have been sent to an Irish laboratory for confirmatory quantitative analysis,” said the Minister. 

The Minister said that the investigation is complex. In parallel with the laboratory analysis, his veterinary staff on the ground are carrying out extensive examination of the records held at the plant with a view to identifying, from every sample tested, the list of ingredients utilised in the particular batch of burgers tested. The Minister pointed out that a wide range of ingredients are used in the production of burgers which can vary by batch and this further complicates the process of drawing conclusions on the role that any particular ingredient may have played in this incident. 

The Minister reiterated that it is encouraging that results received to date indicate no presence of equine DNA in raw materials sourced in Ireland. However, no final conclusions should be drawn before all results are received and assessed. 

He emphasised that great care must be taken in drawing conclusions in this investigation and that all concerned have a right to expect that the investigation being carried out is conducted in a thorough and rigorous way.  “I am not prepared to draw any conclusion until I’m fully satisfied that such conclusions are supported by facts”. He pointed out that “in any food incident the emphasis is always on dealing with the matter thoroughly, promptly and as transparently as possible to ensure that consumer confidence in the integrity of Irish food production is maintained”. 

The Minister emphasised once again that there is no food safety issue involved, that all of the product in respect of which results are now being compiled are already withdrawn from the market and the plant is not currently in production.  He fully appreciates the importance of recommencing production as soon as possible and all efforts are geared towards facilitating this objective.

Date Released: 25 January 2013