Reaction to ‘rotten beef’ claims at ABP Silvercrest

ABP has told AgriLand that the claims cited in a UK press article to the effect that meat unfit for human consumption could have entered the food supply chain are “entirely without foundation”.

An ABP spokesperson added: “They are based on a report of Chief Veterinary Officer in Poland and comments by the Polish inspectors, which ABP does not accept. The report fails to adequately address the significant body of evidence that suggests Poland was the source of at least some of the meat illegally contaminated with horse.

“The meat referred to in the report was being stored under quarantine conditions following a Department of Agriculture inspection over the three weeks prior to the Polish visit. The condition of the meat and packaging in the report’s photographs are a direct result of the storage conditions, movement of the pallets, and removal of packaging for testing. Photographs or analysis of the meat’s appearance over three weeks after its removal from the supply chain cannot credibly be used to draw any conclusions about the integrity of meat stored in a properly controlled environment.”

The Department of Agriculture in Dublin has also commented on these developments. A department spokesperson said: “On 14 March 2013 the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine published a comprehensive report of an investigation into the adulteration of beef products with equine DNA. That investigation was carried out by the department’s veterinary inspectorate, the Food Safety Authority of Ireland and the Garda National Bureau of Fraud Investigations. Critically, it was initiated as a result of initial findings from a food authenticity survey by Ireland’s Food Safety Authority. The matter was brought to the attention of the EU authorities and information arising from the investigation was shared with authorities in a number of other member states.

“That report was clear and unambiguous. The Irish authorities highlighted unacceptable practices along the supply chain, including the presence of horse DNA in meat, which was labelled as being of Polish origin. This problem involved long and complex supply chains, and was international in nature.

“In relation to the references in the report of the Polish CVO to pallets in Silvercrest Foods, which contained frozen blocks of meat pieces,  these had already been removed from storage, manipulated and sampled by the Irish authorities on more than one occasion. Such manipulation would have involved the removal of wrapping and labels, the partial disassembly of pallets and some drilling and sampling of the frozen blocks of meat. Furthermore, the pallets would have been removed from storage on a number of occasions. All of this would have lead to a deterioration in the quality and appearance of the meat. As stated above, once the meat had been detained, there was never a question of its entering the food chain, and therefore no requirement to store it in conditions or to a standard required of food grade material.”