Birds Eye has blamed Irish meat supplier QK Meats for the horsemeat found in its products in the UK and Europe.
The frozen foods company said its investigations had shown that its supplier, Frigilunch, had in turn been supplied by QK Meats, and that QK was the source of the horse DNA that ended up in Birds Eye products. “We have reported these findings to the [Food Standards Agency] and Frigilunch has taken immediate action and suspended them as a supplier,” Birds Eye said in a statement.
The company was drawn into the horsemeat scandal when one of its chilli con carne products tested positive for horse DNA in Belgium. Birds Eye then withdrew Spaghetti Bolognese and Beef Lasagne in the UK as a precaution, and confirmed last week that these products had tested positive for horse DNA as well.
Birds Eye said it believed QK Meats was the source of horse DNA in both UK products and the chilli con carne from Belgium.
“All other meat suppliers to Frigilunch have been given the all-clear through both Birds Eye’s and Frigilunch’s separate testing programmes,” Birds Eye said. “We are pleased that we have now completed our investigation and been able to isolate the problem to one source.”
It added that it had implemented a new three-stage DNA testing regime on products containing minced beef.
In mid-February, Irish department for agriculture, food and the marine announced its investigations into the horsemeat scandal were focused on QK Cold Stores, a cold store in County Kildare, after they were notified by QK Cold Stores that beef trimmings imported from Poland had tested positive for horse DNA.
QK Meats is part of the Queally Group, one of Ireland’s largest privately owned agricultural businesses.
In a statement, QK Meats said: “The quality and safety of our products is of the utmost importance to QK Meats. The company has been operating for the past 25 years and has an exemplary record in terms of food quality and safety standards. K Meats has never knowingly incorporated horsemeat into any of its beef products. Following the discovery of equine DNA in product reported to have been supplied by QK Meats to Frigilunch NV, a supplier to Birds Eye, QK Meats has launched a full investigation into its supply chain.”