Ireland blames Poland for horse meat beef burgers


Horse burger, anyone?

Irish authorities announced today that Polish ingredients are believed responsible for horse-tainted beef that made its way into mainstream operators like Tesco and Burger King earlier this month, reported Reuters

The Irish announcement is part of an investigation launched after horse DNA was found in beef burgers produced by two burger units in Ireland and possibly one in Britain, incidents that prompted widespread concern over food monitoring and health safety. 

Testing led by Ireland's agricultural agency detected 4.1% horse DNA in raw materials from Poland being used at the nation's Silvercrest Foods' burger processing plant, reported Reuters.

Ireland's Minister for Agriculture Simon Coveney today said "horse meat in burgers is likely, is more than likely, to have come from a significant [Polish] ingredient that has been supplied to the factory now for nearly a year" and is "the likely reason for the 29 per cent horse DNA content in the burger that actually kicked off this whole thing," according to the Irish Times. Ireland's raw burger materials were found to be horse-free. 

The scandal is believed to have cost the food industry in Britain and Ireland millions of dollars, but GlobalPost's Barry Neild said the reaction hasn't been all hand-wringing: 

Indeed, for many in the UK, it's often been hard to see past the humor of a recent food scare caused by the detection of horse DNA in beef burgers sold across the country. Politicians, journalists and the general public seem to have swapped more jokes than concerns about the quality of food.

"It's an unbridled disaster," was one of the gags doing the rounds via the Twitter hashtag #horsepuns. "Horse meat in burgers? All part of a stable diet," was another.

Coveney said authorities did not believe Silvercrest Foods was aware of the horse content in the materials being used, according to the Irish Times.  

Silvercrest has plead ignorance in the affair, announcing the company will no longer purchase raw materials outside of Britain and Ireland and promising to pull in outside auditors to protect burger quality in the future, according to company claims cited by Reuters.

Nevertheless, Burger King cut its contract with the company last week, according to the Irish Times.