Burger King has stopped sourcing burgers from the Irish supplier at the centre of the horsemeat contamination scandal, it has announced.
The fast-food giant said it had switched to an alternative supplier to ABP’s Silvercrest plant for its British and Irish restaurants as a “voluntary and precautionary measure”.
The ABP Food Group, one of Europe’s biggest suppliers and processors, stopped work at its Silvercrest plant in Co Monaghan, Ireland, after new tests last week revealed contamination in frozen burgers.
Tests had already shown that Silvercrest Foods and another of the company’s subsidiaries, Dalepak Hambleton in Yorkshire, supplied beefburgers with traces of equine DNA to supermarkets, including one product classed as 29% horse.
But ABP has insisted that meat for Burger King was stored and processed separately and there is no evidence that products for the fast-food giant have been contaminated.
Burger King said in a statement: “Food quality and safety are a top priority for Burger King restaurants globally. We have stringent and overlapping controls to ensure that the products we sell to our customers meet our strict quality standards.
“Silvercrest, a subsidiary of ABP Food Group, has been under investigation for potential contamination of some retail products. This company also supplied 100% pure beef patties for our restaurants in the UK and Ireland.
“While this is not a food safety issue according to findings from the Food Safety Authority of Ireland (FSAI), upon learning of these allegations, we immediately launched an independent investigation that is currently ongoing.
“As a precaution, this past weekend we decided to replace all Silvercrest products in the UK and Ireland with products from another approved Burger King supplier. This is a voluntary and precautionary measure. We are working diligently to identify suppliers that can produce 100 per cent pure Irish and British beef products that meet our high quality standards.
“Unfortunately, this may mean that some of our products are temporarily unavailable. We apologise to our guests for any inconvenience. However, we want to let them know that they can trust us to serve only the highest quality products.
“We take this matter seriously and will continue with our investigations to determine how this situation occurred and what lessons can be learned.”
Tesco took out full-page adverts in a number of newspapers apologising for selling the contaminated beefburgers, and Aldi, Lidl and Iceland also withdrew burgers from sale after they were found to contain horsemeat.
Sainsbury’s, Asda and the Co-op later withdrew some frozen products but stressed that the move was “purely precautionary” and they had not been found to be selling contaminated food.
Ten million burgers have been taken off supermarket shelves across Ireland and the UK as a result of the scandal.
Another company, Liffey Meats, based in Co Cavan, Ireland, was also found to be supplying products to supermarkets with traces of horse DNA.
Suppliers in the Netherlands and Spain have been identified as the possible sources for incorrectly-labelled ingredients.