Reopened meat firm denies any wrongdoing

B&F Meats, which had been accused by the Department of Agriculture of mislabelling horsemeat as beef of the Czech market, is back in business and yesterday said it “had not at any stage misrepresented the nature of its products”.

The Carrick-on-Suir facility had been investigated following the claims, but last night said it had done nothing wrong — a view directly contradicted by the minister for agriculture.

In a statement released by its solicitors, B&F Meats director, Ted Farrell, said: “From the start of the investigation the company was satisfied that its records would clearly show that it had not at any stage misrepresented the nature of its products and that it had at all times acted in accordance with the terms of its contract with its UK-based client and its own documented operational procedures.”

Mr Farrell said the past days had been “very stressful” for those at the company and that the outcome of the department’s investigation had vindicated the company’s decision “not to respond to media queries or to comment on any of the misinformed comment that characterised early reportage which followed the announcement of the investigation by the minister of agriculture, Simon Coveney on Feb 22 last”.

However, in a separate statement the minister’s office appeared to contradict B&F Meats’ view of the probe and said legal action was still being considered.

“As previously stated, the minister is very unhappy at the false labelling that has taken place at B&F meats,” the department statement read.

“However, B&F Meats have now complied with all the requirements of the Compliance Notice served on the company and the department is not in a position to prevent the company resuming business.

“The company will however from now on be subject to more stringent official controls having regard to the recent incident. The question of taking of legal proceedings is now under active consideration by the gardaí and the department.”

Elsewhere, Polish authorities have revealed that horse DNA has been found in beef stored at three different storage facilities, with the Irish Government tightlipped as to whether any of the firms are connected to the initial positive horse DNA test which sparked the controversy.

The horsemeat issue returned to Poland — source of the original contaminant in the frozen Tesco burger which sparked the scandal in January — when the country’s general veterinary inspectorate said it found three tainted samples from 121 tested, with 80 more samples still to be examined.

The comments, from deputy national veterinarian Janusz Zwiazek, are the first acknowledgement of horse DNA in other meat in Poland after officials there had previously said there were no signs of horsemeat at all abattoirs tested. Prosecutions could now follow.

Yesterday a spokesperson for the Department of Agriculture said investigations were continuing and no comment would be made regarding any possible link to the additive believed to be responsible for the presence of 29.1% horse DNA in a Tesco frozen budget burger or in other contaminated foods.

Polish companies Food Service, Pago, and Mipol have been linked to alleged horsemeat contamination in meat but all have already issued strong denials of any involvement.

More in this section

Puzzles logo
IE-logo

Puzzles hub

Visit our brain gym where you will find simple and cryptic crosswords, sudoku puzzles and much more. Updated at midnight every day.

Puzzles logo
IE-logo

Puzzles hub

Visit our brain gym where you will find simple and cryptic crosswords, sudoku puzzles and much more. Updated at midnight every day.

War of Independence Podcast

A special four-part series hosted by Mick Clifford

Available on
www.irishexaminer.com/podcasts

Commemorating 100 years since the War of Independence