Fast food giant Burger King has ditched British and Irish beef as it seeks to rebuild consumer confidence following the “horseburger” scandal.
Burger King said it was now sourcing beef from approved suppliers in Germany and Italy for products sold in all its UK restaurants.
“These suppliers have provided DNA evidence to confirm their products are free of equine DNA,” it said in a statement. “These are the product being sold in our restaurants today.”
Burger King said the decision was precautionary after independent DNA tests results on products taken from its restaurants were negative for any equine DNA.
But it admitted that four samples recently taken from Irish beef supplier Silvercrest had shown the presence of very small trace levels of equine DNA.
Although the product was never sold to its restaurants, Burger King said it had now ditched Silvercrest as a supplier because it had used non-approved beef.
“Within the past 36 hours, we have established that Silvercrest used a small percentage of beef imported from a non-approved supplier in Poland,” the statement said.
“They promised to deliver 100% British & Irish beef patties and have not done so. This is a clear violation of our specifications, and we have terminated our relationship with them.”
Burger King confirmed that the non-approved Polish supplier is the same company identified by the Irish Department of Agriculture as the source of equine DNA in other Silvercrest products.
The contamination of some 10m economy beefburgers withdrawn from supermarket shelves after tests showed they contained up to 29% horsemeat.
Burger King vice-president Diego Beamonte reiterated the Food Safety Authority of Ireland has stated that this is not a food safety issue.
But he added: “We are deeply troubled by the findings of our investigation and apologise to our guests, who trust us to source only the highest quality 100% beefburgers.
“Our supplier has failed us and in turn we have failed you. We are committed to ensuring that this does not happen again.”
Burger King said it remained committed to identifying suppliers that could produce 100% pure Irish and British beef products that met its high quality standards.
Mr Beaumonte said: “We will dedicate ourselves to determining what lessons can be learned and what additional measures, including DNA testing and enhanced traceability controls, can be taken.”