Beef containing horse DNA that was supplied by an Irish company to major food companies including Tesco and Iceland originated in Poland, Ireland's agricultural department have said.
The British food industry was rocked by the revelation retailers sold beef products that contained horse DNA, a scandal that has also left Ireland's 2 billion euros beef industry reeling from the knock-on effects.
Results of tests showed that Polish ingredients used by Irish burger manufacturer Silvercrest contained 4.1 percent horse DNA, the agriculture department said in a statement.
Waitrose has become the latest supermarket to pull beef burgers from its selves after horsemeat was found in burgers made by one their suppliers.
The company said it had taken frozen burgers made by Dalepak, one of the firms at the centre of the horsemeat contamination investigation, off sale "as a precaution" when it had its accreditation suspended.
In a statement, Waitrose said its burgers had since been tested and were found to be 100% beef:
"The ingredients in our burgers are simple with all meat traceable back to British farms that we know."
"Our technical team visited the Dalepak site last week and were happy that our products were produced to our high specification and separately from other companies' products (ours are produced at 6am before other any other burgers)."
The Food Standards Agency also says it has started its own survey of meat products in UK supermarkets, in association with local authorities.
It will do tests to show whether they contain horse or pig DNA, and if so, how much.
The Food Standards Agency (FSA) says its investigation into the horsemeat beef burger scandal is focusing on European suppliers who sent their products to the companies that made the burgers for the supermarkets.
The FSA says their colleagues in Ireland found one sample that was positive for horse DNA in raw materials sent from Europe to the Silvercrest processing plant in Ireland.
The FSA is now looking to see if raw materials supplied to the Dalepak plant in Yorkshire from Europe are also contaminated - and whether the two plants have the same European suppliers.
– Food Standards Agency
There is nothing about horsemeat which makes it any more or less safe than other meat products. The meat products were supplied to the retailers by approved establishments. We have therefore been advising consumers that, on the basis of the evidence we have, there is no food safety risk with these products.
In addition, the burgers that tested positive for horse DNA were then tested for the presence of phenylbutazone, a commonly-used medicine in horses that is not allowed in the food chain, and all of the results were negative.
Seven samples of raw ingredients were tested by the Irish Department of Agriculture, including one sourced from another European country which tested positive.
All ingredients in the production of burgers sourced from Irish suppliers tested negative for horse DNA, the department said.
The positive samples will now be analysed further in Germany with a view to quantifying the percentage of horse DNA present.
– Ireland's Agriculture Minister Simon Coveney
Thirteen samples of finished burgers were tested for the presence of equine DNA. Nine have tested positive for traces of equine DNA and another four have tested negative. The minister and the FSAI have repeated their clear statement that there is no concern from a food safety perspective.
Burgers containing horsemeat could have been made from "diseased or injured animals", environmental health experts have warned.
The head of the Society of Chief Officers of Environmental Health in Scotland said because burgers had bypassed official inspection "there is no way of telling whether the meat is safe".
– John Sleith, chairman of the SOCOEHS
We note that statements are being made that it is not a health issue, but our concern is that there is no information on how the horsemeat came to be in the burgers.
If it hasn't come through the official inspection system, then there is no confidence that it is completely harmless.
Mr Sleith added that the scandal was an example of a growing problem of "food fraud".
A major food factory owned by one of Europe's biggest suppliers and processors has been shut in Ireland after horse DNA was found in frozen burgers in new tests two days ago.
ABP Food Group said the suspension of all production at the Silvercrest Foods plant in Co Monaghan was the "responsible course of action".
The firm said that, following new results from the Irish Department of Agriculture, it believes the source of the contaminated material is one supplier.
Following her urgent question in the Commons on horsemeat beef burgers, Shadow Environment Secretary Mary Creagh tweeted:
Heath hasn't answered why Horseburgers discovered by Irish authorities and not UK. How can he guarantee it won't happen again? Silence.
The Food Standards Agency (FSA) has set out a four point plan for its investigation into the discovery of horse DNA in beef burger products, Environment Minister David Heath has said.
The FSA will:
- Continue its urgent review - the retailers named in the survey have been asked to provide comprehensive information on the findings by the end of Friday.
- Explore further the methodology used by the survey to understand the factors that may have led to cases of cross-contamination.
- Consider whether any legal action is appropriate following the investigation.
- Work with local and central Government on a UK-wide study of food authenticity in processed meat products.