The Co-operative Group has ditched Silvercrest as a supplier after finding 17.7% horse DNA in a frozen own-label burger produced by the ABP Food Group plant.

The retailer withdrew two lines of frozen burgers from sale as a precaution on 16 January and subsequently carried out DNA tests. Horse DNA was found in four out of 17 samples, with one showing 17.7% horse. The other three contained trace amounts of horse.

A spokesperson for The Co-operative said: “We pride ourselves on the quality of the products we sell, and we are taking this matter very seriously. Our decision to withdraw these products at the first opportunity and cease taking further product from this site, has proven to be the correct course of action.

“Whilst there are no safety issues involved, it is now apparent that some of the withdrawn products have not met the high standards we and our customers expect. We apologise for this.

“We specify that all meat in our frozen burgers should be 100% British, but we now strongly believe that some of the meat used to produce these burgers came from outside the UK and was not British in origin, and as a result we have taken the decision to delist Silvercrest as a supplier with immediate effect.

“In addition, we are tightening our already stringent quality checks to ensure our products meet the high specifications that we set on behalf of our customers.”

The Co-op’s decision to ditch Silvercrest comes after Tesco announced it had dumped the company earlier today. Tesco also accused Silvercrest of sourcing imported ingredients, when it had specified only Irish and British materials should be used in its burgers.

Silvercrest was not immediately available for comment.