Food safety officials are thrashing out details of a new DNA testing system for meat products following the scandal that saw beefburgers contaminated with horsemeat.
Farm minister David Heath will meet Food Standards Agency representatives next Wednesday (13 February) in the latest round of talks aimed at restoring consumer confidence after millions of burgers were withdrawn from supermarket shelves.
Talks this week saw the agency and the food industry agree a standardised sampling and testing system which will meet accredited standards and test to an agreed level of DNA.
Having agreed the principle, they must now decide how the system will work in practice.
Mr Heath said: “Food businesses’ agreement to give regular updates on meat testing is a significant move that will give consumers confidence in what they’re buying. It’s now important that the industry starts sharing this information as soon as possible.”
Earlier, the company at the centre of the scandal blamed the contamination of its beefburgers on 170t of meat products purchased from McAdam Food Products, a meat export and wholesale supply company based in Ireland and operating across Europe.
“It appears that, while Silvercrest purchased these beef products in good faith, horse DNA originating in Poland was present in some of these products,” the ABP statement said. The company was co-operating fully with the official investigation, it added.
Separately, a consignment of beef containing 80% horsemeat was found at a cold store operated by Freeza Meats of Newry, Northern Ireland. McAdam Food Products said it had no knowledge of any horsemeat in its products.
Shadow farm minister Huw Irranca-Davies said: “The major supermarkets and processors have a duty to their customers to DNA-check all value-meat products to restore confidence in the supply chain.”