The Food Standards Agency has issued a statement stressing Northern Ireland’s Freeza Meats has not supplied any meat products contaminated with horse DNA, after Labour shadow environment secretary Mary Creagh wrote to Defra demanding urgent action to protect Freeza’s customers.
On Monday (4 February), the FSA said a consignment of meat detained in Freeza’s cold store had tested positive for horse DNA, with some samples containing about 80% horse. Freeza clarified on Tuesday that the product in question was not its own but had been stored there on behalf of Irish meat trader McAdam Foods, and that its own beef products had been tested for horse and pork DNA and come back negative.
But in a letter to Defra Secretary of State Owen Paterson, published today, Creagh said “the composition and safety of meat at the Freeza Meats plant has clearly been compromised by this incident”. She said Freeza supplied a number of catering companies, and that pubs, schools and hospitals supplied by those companies would be concerned by Freeza being implicated in the scandal.
“What testing does the Food Standards Agency plan to undertake on Freeza Meats products?” she asked. “What advice have they given to customers of Freeza Meats? Has the government advised Freeza Meats and their customers to withdraw processed beef products from sale? If not, why not?”
Responding to Creagh’s letter, the FSA said there was no evidence that Freeza had supplied meat products contaminated with horse DNA. “None of the seized consignment found to contain horse meat had entered the food chain,” it added.
The FSA also said the local authority had tested a number of Freeza Meats beef burgers, and “all results to date are negative for horse and pork DNA. The investigation is ongoing.”
In her letter to Paterson, Creagh also pointed out that Ireland’s agriculture minister Simon Coveney and Northern Ireland deputy first minster Martin McGuinness had both called in police to help investigate the wider horse contamination issue. “What plans do you have to do the same?” she asked Paterson.
“The public must have confidence that the food they buy is properly labelled, legal and safe to eat, whether it si purchased from a supermarket or in a school canteen.”