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Horse meat crisis cost Northern Ireland firm £2.5m and 31 jobs

The horse meat scandal cost a Northern Ireland food processing plant a £2.5m contract and 31 jobs, MPs have heard.

James Fairbairn, who recently retired as Freeza Meat's commercial director, told a Commons select committee the firm had done nothing wrong.

In February a consignment of beef at the Newry firm was found to contain around 80% horse meat.

The company was storing the meat for another firm, and it was kept separate from its own supplies and did not enter the food chain.

Giving evidence to the Commons environment, food and rural affairs committee yesterday, Mr Fairbairn said: "We had no attachment to that product for the five to six months it was there.

"We wouldn't see a risk in the storage of it, especially as it was indicated to us it was going to be very short-term.

"There are not that many cold stores about the place at the moment who would operate and take it in like that."

Mr Fairbairn said the controversy created by the find had cost the firm £2.5m in a lost contract as well as 31 jobs.

At the same meeting, the Food Standards Agency admitted that further cases of beef contaminated with horse meat could yet come to light.

The FSA has recently agreed to an independent review which will be carried out into its response to the horse meat scandal. Professor Pat Troop will have unrestricted access to all documents held by the agency that are relevant to the scope of the inquiry and will feed into a larger Government review of the issue.

Belfast Telegraph