Tesco has revealed it has withdrawn 26 product lines in response to the horse meat contamination scandal uncovered in Ireland and the UK yesterday.
Although the survey carried out by the Food Standards Agency of Ireland involved just two Tesco products – both frozen beef burgers – testing positive for horse DNA, the retailer said it had decided to withdraw from sale all lines produced by Silvercrest Foods, the Ireland-based supplier responsible for the two burgers.
“This affects 21 own-brand and five branded lines,” a spokesman for Tesco told thegrocer.co.uk. “We have withdrawn all lines produced for us by Silvercrest, and we will not be taking any product from them until we are satisfied with the outcome of our investigations.” He added all the own-brand products involved were frozen products.
Silvercrest Foods, which is a subsidiary of Anglo Beef Processors (ABP), said the FSAI survey had found horse and pig DNA in the products of a number of burger manufacturing companies. “Although the products pose no risk to public health, Silvercrest has taken immediate action to isolate, withdraw and replace all suspect product,” a spokeswoman said.
The FSAI survey found equine and porcine DNA in numerous burger products sold in Ireland and in the UK. Aside from the two Tesco products – one of which contained 29.1% horse material – products from Aldi, Lidl, Dunnes Stores and Iceland also tested positive for horse DNA, albeit in smaller quantities. Pork DNA was found in 23 of the 27 beef burger products tested.
Tesco’s group technical director, former FSA CEO Tim Smith, said in a statement: “The safety and quality of our food is of the highest importance to Tesco. We will not tolerate any compromise in the quality of the food we sell. The presence of illegal meat in our products is extremely serious. Our customers have the right to expect that food they buy is produced to the highest standards.
“We are working with the authorities in Ireland and the UK, and with the supplier concerned, to urgently understand how this has happened and how to ensure it does not happen again.”