Horsemeat scandal grows - and it is still far from over

Thumb_chris-choi
The government is asking food companies to test for horsemeat traces.
The government is asking food companies to test for horsemeat traces. Photo: ITV News

In the last 24 hours DNA tests have revealed two more sites with horsemeat. This time very large proportions were found:

  • A raw material ingredient at Rangeland Foods, Co Monaghan - was 75% horse meat.
  • And here in the UK, Freeza Meats in Northern Ireland samples came back positive for horse meat, at around 80%.

This follows tests at Silvercrest one of their finished burgers had 29% horse DNA relative to beef. (Silvercrest supplied big high street names like Tesco and Burger King).

The big question is where does the evidence trail lead from here. First: further up the food chain, which UK outlets are supplied by Rangeland or Freeza Meats?

So far nobody has come forward (I'm not surprised) and our calls to food firms are getting polite but meaningless reassurances. The two companies say the horse meat on their premises did not get used in production - in fact Freeza Meats say they were only storing it for someone else.

Read More: Freeza Meats storing contaminated meat 'in goodwill'

Next direction we need to look is back down the food chain; what was the origin of this meat?

The Irish authorities keep pointing to Poland. But so far the Polish food investigators, despite tests, have come up with no conclusion to this investigation.

So consumers are being fed the same two rather tired attempted reassurances: "There is no health risk" and "investigations are continuing". It is all wearing thin.

Officials here at The Food Standards Agency this morning announced it has agreed with industry to publish the results of industry testing of meat products .The Food Standards Agency "will now agree a standardised sampling and testing system which will meet accredited standards and test to an agreed level of DNA".

The natural question here is why is government not doing the tests; don't we need truly independent checks?

We invited the Food and Farming Minister David Heath to appear - so far my requests have been declined.

What I can tell you is that official tests of beef products all over the UK have also started and that they are testing specifically for horsemeat.