Horsemeat in British, Irish Hamburgers Traced to Poland

Polish food processing plants are believed to be the source of horse-tainted hamburger meat recently discovered in the United Kingdom and Ireland, according to the Food Safety Authority of Ireland (FSAI).

The Dublin-based Silvercrest meat processing plant, which supplied burger meat to national supermarket chains and to hamburger giant Burger King, among other clients, had received imported meat from Poland, the FSAI reported in a Jan. 28 press release. Since the FSAI discovered equine DNA in beef patties on a routine investigation, the Minister for Agriculture, Food, and the Marine has been carrying out additional tests to pinpoint the source of the DNA.

Investigators determined that there were "significant levels of equine DNA (4.1%) in raw material that was used in the manufacture of burgers," the FSAI stated.

"The Minister said he was confident that this finding leads to a firm conclusion that the raw material in question was the source of equine DNA introduced into burgers manufactured at Silvercrest," the organization said. "The FSAI welcomes these conclusive results, which are in line with the results found by the FSAI during its survey into some beef burger products on sale in retail shops in Ireland. The FSAI has notified the Polish authorities and the matter is now with them."

Meanwhile, hamburger giant Burger King has acknowledged that its beef patties in these countries might have contained horsemeat. The restaurant chain has since canceled its contract with the Irish meat supplier which had provided the horse-tainted meat, according to a press release from the company.

On Jan. 31, Burger King's vice president of global quality Diego Beamonte issued a public apology via a statement on the company's website: "While the Food Safety Authority of Ireland has stated that this is not a food safety issue, we are deeply troubled by the findings of our investigation and apologize to our guests, who trust us to source only the highest quality 100% beef burgers. 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 did not immediately respond to requests for comments from The Horse.

About the Author

Christa Lesté-Lasserre, MA

Christa Lesté-Lasserre is a freelance writer based in France. A native of Dallas, Texas, Lesté-Lasserre grew up riding Quarter Horses, Appaloosas, and Shetland Ponies. She holds a master’s degree in English, specializing in creative writing, from the University of Mississippi in Oxford and earned a bachelor's in journalism and creative writing with a minor in sciences from Baylor University in Waco, Texas. She currently keeps her two Trakehners at home near Paris. Follow Lesté-Lasserre on Twitter @christalestelas.

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