Thursday, 31 January 2013

Ceisteanna (178, 179)

Denis Naughten

Ceist:

178. Deputy Denis Naughten asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine the contacts that have taken place with Polish authorities regarding the inclusion of horse meat in beef product; the investigations which are taking place into the source of the contamination; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [4894/13]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Denis Naughten

Ceist:

179. Deputy Denis Naughten asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine the steps that are being taken at EU level to ensure the integrity of its licensing regime following the identification of horse meat in beef product sources in Poland; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [4895/13]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Agriculture)

I propose to take Questions Nos. 178 and 179 together.

Test results received late on Friday 25th January, during the intensive investigation into this matter by my Department and the FSAI, showed a significant positive result for equine DNA in frozen beef trimmings which had been imported from Poland as raw material for the production of burgers at Silvercrest Foods. Furthermore it was established that these trimmings were used in the manufacture of burgers which the Department had found to contain significant amounts of equine DNA. The investigation had therefore established a direct correlation between burgers in which a high level of equine DNA was detected and this raw material product. Further tests of the Polish ingredient concerned also showed significant positive results for equine DNA. I am confident that these findings point to a firm conclusion that the raw material in question was the source of equine DNA introduced into burgers manufactured at Silvercrest. Tests on samples taken from Irish food ingredients were negative.

Under EU single market rules, meat products from EU approved plants can be traded freely within the Community. EU rules set down harmonised conditions for approval of meat plants in EU Member States. The onus of compliance with EU food safety regulation rests in the first instance with food business operators. This is subject to a series of official controls, which are the responsibility of the competent authorities in the Member State concerned. The authorities in Poland have been informed of the findings of the investigation relating to equine DNA and are conducting their own enquiries. Official contact was via the Polish Embassy, the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development and the Chief Veterinary Officer.