Tesco terminates deal with supplier over 'horse burgers'

31 January 2013

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31 January 2013 | Adam Leach

Tesco has cancelled its contract with its supplier  Silvercrest after it discovered burgers containing horse meat were made with meat from a third party it had not approved.

Yesterday the supermarket chain announced following the conclusion of an investigation by the Food Safety Authority of Ireland it understood “with as much certainty as possible” the supplies containing the horse meat had come from a factory in Poland. The finding broke two requirements within the Tesco contract - that the meat did not come from the approved list of suppliers, and that it did not come from either a UK or Irish farm.

A statement from Tim Smith, group technical director at Tesco, said: “Consequently we have decided not to take products from that supplier in the future. We took that decision with regret but the breach of trust is simply too great.”

Tesco added while the supplier had breached the agreement, it holds ultimate responsibility for the scandal. As a result it has committed to implementing a “comprehensive system of DNA testing” across its meat products.

The company said: “These checks will set a new standard. It will be a significant investment for Tesco, borne by Tesco. We want to leave customers in no doubt that we will do whatever it takes to ensure the quality of their food and that the food they buy is exactly what the label says it is.”

In a statement, Paul Finnerty, group chief executive of Silvercrest’s owner ABP Food, said: “This has been a very difficult experience for all involved and has led to a significant interruption in business for Silvercrest and its customers. We are relieved that the source of the problem has been identified. While the company has never knowingly purchased or traded in equine product, I wish to take this opportunity to apologise for the impact this issue has caused.”

Update, 1 February 2013

Fast food restaurant Burger King has also announced it has dropped Silvercrest as a supplier. Although the company’s testing did not find any horse DNA in its products, it said the vendor had failed to live up to its promise of delivering 100 per cent British and Irish burgers, which was a clear violation of specifications. The restaurant had already switched to suppliers in Germany and Italy as a precaution.

Diego Beamonte, vice president, global quality at Burger King, said in a statement: “Our supplier has failed us and in turn we have failed you. We are committed to ensuring that this does not happen again.”

Two other retailers who sourced products from Silvercrest, Aldi Ireland and The Co-operative have also terminated their relationships with the supplier.

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