Analysis of the Meat Scandal

Topics: Meat, Hamburger, Food Pages: 5 (1806 words) Published: August 21, 2013
The 2013 meat adulteration scandal is ongoing in Europe; foods advertised as containing beef were found to contain undeclared horse meat, as much as 100% of the meat content in some cases,[1] and other undeclared meats, such as pork.[2] The issue came to light on 15 January 2013, when it was reported that horse DNA had been discovered in frozen beefburgers sold in several Irish and British supermarkets. While horse meat is not harmful to health and is eaten in many countries, it is considered a taboo food in many countries, including the UK and Ireland. The analysis stated that 23 out of 27 samples of beef burgers also contained pig DNA, which is a taboo food to the Muslim and Jewish communities.[3]

While not a direct food safety issue, the scandal revealed a major breakdown in the traceability of the food supply chain, and therefore some risk that harmful ingredients were included as well. Sports horses for instance could have entered the food supply chain, and with them the veterinary drug phenylbutazone which is banned in food animals. The scandal has since spread to 13 other European countries and European authorities have decided to find an EU-wide solution. They initiated meat testing of about 4,000 horse meat samples for the veterinary drug. The EU Recommendation on Labelling the Origin of Processed Meat will be published as soon as possible.[4]

Investigations by the Food Safety Authority of Ireland (FSAI) resulted in Ireland being the first EU state to report the presence of horse meat in beef and make public the results.[5] The first positive test for equine DNA was on 10 December 2012.[6] It carried out additional tests on 18 and 21 December.[6] The FSAI then sent samples to the Eurofins laboratory in Germany. Professor Alan Reilly of the FSAI testified to the Oireachtas on 5 February 2013 that the results indicated the presence of equine DNA, but not the amount. The IdentiGen Laboratory and the Eurofins Laboratory were asked to determine the amount of horse meat in the samples.[6] On 21 December 2012, the FSAI requested that the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine in Ireland obtain further samples.[6] These were sent to the Identigen laboratory on 4 January 2013.[6] Results were received back from Eurofins and Identigen on 11 January 2013.[6] Professor Reilly reported on 5 February that 'quantitative results from Identigen were received by the FSAI late on the evening of 11 January 2013. Of the ten burger products that tested positive for equine DNA, all but one was at low levels. The quantification of the equine DNA in this one burger product gave an estimated amount of 29% equine DNA relative to the beef DNA content of the burger product. This product was manufactured by Silvercrest on behalf of Tesco. At this point, there was no explanation for the finding of 29% equine DNA relative to beef DNA in this single sample.[6] On 14 January 2013 the FSAI informed the Department of Health and the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine of the final results. On the same day it also informed the Food Standards Agency in the United Kingdom.

The next day, 15 January 2013, the FSAI advised the five retailers concerned, Tesco, Dunnes Stores, Aldi, Lidl and Iceland, of their findings;[6] all these firms withdrew the offending products.[6] The media and newspapers of the 16 January 2013 led with the story, focusing on the one burger which tested positive for 29% equine DNA.[7][8] Test results

Of 27 beef burger products tested, 37% were positive for horse DNA, and 85% were positive for pig DNA. Of 31 beef meal products tested, 21 were positive for pig DNA but all were negative for horse DNA. 19 salami products were tested but were negative for all foreign DNA.[9] Of the 37% of beef products tested positive for horse DNA, Tesco's inexpensive Everyday Value Beef Burgers tested at 29.1%. All other reported brands had less than 0.3% horse DNA. These products originated from Liffey Meats and...
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