Asda withdraws frozen burger range supplied by NI company

Julian O'Neill reports for BBC Newsline

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The supermarket chain, Asda, has withdrawn four frozen burger products supplied by Northern Ireland company, Freeza Meats, as a precaution, in the wake of the horsemeat controversy.

A batch of meat containing 80% horse DNA was discovered in a cold store at Freeza Meats in Newry.

The Newry company said it was storing the meat for a firm based in the Irish Republic, after declining to buy it.

Freeza Meat said none of the meat had got into the food chain.

Newry and Mourne Council said tests on Freeza Meat's burgers were free from horse meat DNA.

Asda said its own DNA tests on the burger range had also not found any trace of any horsemeat.

"As a precaution we have withdrawn four frozen burger products produced by a company in Northern Ireland after a separate batch of meat in another part of their premises was found by the Food Standards Agency to contain horse DNA," it said.

"We conducted our own DNA tests, along with environmental health officers, on the four burger products being produced by Freeza Meats for Asda and these have come back free of any trace of horsemeat.

"Although all the science says there's no trace of horsemeat in the burgers produced for Asda, we can't and won't take any chances when it comes to the authenticity of ingredients in our products."

Meanwhile, Tesco has withdrawn thousands of packets of its Everyday value spaghetti bolognese amid concerns it could be contaminated with horsemeat.

It followed an alert by a French supplier, Comigel, which is understood to have reported that some of its ingredients did "not conform" to the product specification.

Freeza Meats Freeza Meats of Newry said it had been asked by an Irish company to store the meat after they had declined to buy it

The developments come after the Food Standards Agency announced it had tested meat being stored by Freeza Meats for County Monaghan-based McAdam Foods.

In a press release, McAdam Foods said the product had been supplied to McAdam by Flexifood, a meat-trading company with a head office in Hull, east Yorkshire.

McAdam Foods has now named two Polish suppliers as the potential source of the problem.

Owner Martin McAdam said he did not know there was any trace of horsemeat in beef supplies and felt let down by their Polish supplier.

He told Monaghan-based Northern Sound Radio that he had "no concerns" the product could be compromised and said it was a reputable business.

"I had not an inkling that this was happening," he said.

Mr McAdam said he was working with the Food Standards Agency in Ireland and the Republic's department of agriculture and has provided them with documentation.

Gardai (police in the Republic) have launched an investigation into the discovery of horsemeat at another beef processing factory in the Republic.

Ministers requested police assistance after equine DNA was found at Rangeland Foods, in County Monaghan.

Meanwhile, Northern Ireland Deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness has called for the police to investigate the latest revelations about the meat processing industry.

Gerry McCurdy of the FSA said there was "definitely now the potential" of fraudulent activity.

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