Belfast Telegraph

Sunday 28 December 2014

We don't own the tainted meat found at our plant, insists firm

Freeza Meats Ltd in Newry where horse DNA has been found in frozen meat in a cold store
Freeza Meats Ltd in Newry where horse DNA has been found in frozen meat in a cold store

A company in Northern Ireland caught up in the ongoing horse meat scandal has said it does not own a contaminated consignment found on its premises.

Freeza Meats spoke out after tests found that two samples from 12 beef trimmings at the company's cold store were found to contain 80% horse DNA.

In a statement, the Newry company said it declined to buy the contaminated batch when it was approached by a meat trader from Co Monaghan in August. The company then stored the consignment for the trader.

The meat, which was detained following tests by Newry and Mourne Council's environmental health officers, did not enter the food chain.

A spokesman for the company said: "In August 2012 we were approached by the meat trader McAdam Foods Services in Co Monaghan to purchase a parcel of raw material, which we declined.

"Martin McAdam subsequently asked us to hold his product in storage, which we did in goodwill in a separated area of the storage facility."

Freeza Meats – which employs just over 45 people – warned that the publicity of recent days could threaten the company's survival.

"Given the sensitivities of the area in which we work, jobs could be put at risk by misinformation," a spokesman said.

Martin McAdam, whose firm owned the meat, could not be reached for comment last night.

Speaking to the BBC, however, he said there was "clearly an issue" with their Polish supplier.

He said he is working with the Food Standards Agency in Ireland and the Republic's Department of Agriculture and has provided them with documentation.

Yesterday, Deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness called for the PSNI to investigate the latest revelations about the meat processing industry.

Police in the Republic have been called in to investigate after horse meat was found at a third factory this week. Irish Agriculture Minister Simon Coveney called in the Garda and his department's own special investigation unit after equine DNA was found in beef products at Rangeland Foods in Co Monaghan.

Mr McGuinness said: "I understand that the Department of Agriculture in the South have called in the Garda to investigate.

"I believe that there is also a strong case for the PSNI to be involved in an investigation around these latest developments."

First Minister Peter Robinson added: "Agricultural products from Northern Ireland are always regarded as being of the highest standard and if there is a view, whether it is pork going into halal meat or some further drop in standards, then it has an impact on the whole of the agri-food industry."

The NI Food Standards Agency is now investigating the source of the latest contaminated consignment found at Freeza Meats.

The agency is also trying to establish if the meat was deliberately labelled incorrectly.

Gerry McCurdy, director of the Food Standards Agency Northern Ireland, said his organisation was investigating to find out if there was fraud.

background

Last month, horse DNA was found in beefburgers being sold in UK and Irish supermarkets. It emerged that the meat originated in three meat plants, including Liffey Meats in Co Cavan and Silvercrest Foods in Co Monaghan. Rangeland Foods in Co Monaghan was one of the latest plants shut down after a sample was found to contain 75% horse meat. On Sunday it was revealed that McColgan's Quality Foods Limited in Strabane had supplied halal food containing traces of pork DNA to UK prisons.

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