Meat-processor ABP has sold its Silvercrest factory to Kepak Group, marking the company’s exit from the frozen burger sector in Ireland.

The plant at Ballybay, Co Monaghan, was identified as the source of the Tesco economy burgers, which tested positive for 29.1% horse DNA. It has been shut since 16 January.

The undisclosed sale, which involves 122 staff, is subject to approval from competition authorities.

Kepak Group is a fresh and frozen meat supplier, which also owns microwaveable burger and sandwich brands Rustlers and Zugos.

“Our decision to sell the Ballybay facility allows the group to move forward positively with our core chilled beef business and other developing businesses,” said ABP Food Group chief executive Paul Finnerty.

“It has become apparent that the ABP Food Group was only one of a large number of leading European operations affected by the equine issue. The issue affected frozen burgers, which are not core to the group’s future business strategy.”

The company’s chilled business had been unaffected by the horsemeat issue, he added.

ABP will continue to produce frozen meat products, including burgers, at its Dalepak plant in Yorkshire.

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