British supermarket chain Tesco has withdrawn a number of brands of frozen beefburgers from sale in the UK and Ireland after they were found to contain horse meat.
The worst offender was Tesco Everyday Value Beef Burgers, in which it was found that horse meat accounted for 29 percent of the content in one sample.
“We are working with the authorities in Ireland and the UK, and with the supplier concerned, to urgently understand how this has happened and how to ensure it does not happen again,” said Tesco in a statement on Tuesday evening.
DNA tests also showed low levels of horse meat in burgers from Lidl, Aldi, Iceland and Dunnes Stores.
The Republic of Ireland’s food safety authority (FSAI) said the meat containing horse DNA came from two processing plants in Ireland, Liffey Meats and Silvercrest Foods, and the Dalepak Hambleton plant in Yorkshire.
After analysing 27 products, 10 of them were found to contain horse DNA and 23 contained pig DNA.
The chief executive of the FSAI, Professor Alan Reilly, said there is a “plausible explanation for the presence of pig DNA” in beef burgers as meat from different animals is processed in the same plants. However as horse meat is not eaten in the UK or Ireland there is no explanation for this.
Reilly said the findings do not pose a public health risk but said it was concerning.
He added: “For some religious groups or people who abstain from eating pig meat, the presence of traces of pig DNA is unacceptable.”