The Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine Simon Coveney TD welcomed the publication today of the results of the EU wide testing programme for equine DNA in beef products and phenylbutazone (bute) in horse carcases.
The adulteration of beef products was initially discovered by the official control regime in Ireland, where advanced DNA testing methods were used in an FSAI survey on meat authenticity. The presence of equine DNA discovered in a single burger ultimately uncovered a pan European problem. The Minister, as President of the Agriculture Council, arranged to have the matter discussed at EU level and the Commission promptly proposed the EU testing programme, the results of which are published today.
The results show that, across the EU, there were 4,144 tests under the equine DNA programme of which 193 were positive. In Ireland, all of the results of the 50 DNA tests on Irish beef products under the EU programme were negative. In addition there were 7,951 tests reported for equine DNA carried out by food business operators across the EU, of which 110 were positive. The Minister pointed out that under the Irish national DNA testing regime the results of 2185 DNA tests published by the FSAI to date showed only a small number of positives (32 representing 9 products), all of which were published previously and products withdrawn from the market.
In relation to the EU programme for bute testing there were 16 positives from 3,115 tests.
In Ireland of the 840 tests carried out on horse carcases for bute, only one was positive. The carcase concerned was destroyed and the case is under investigation.
The Minister said:
“The results published today will be considered by the EU Standing Committee on the Food Chain and Animal Health to determine what further action at EU level is required. The level of testing in Ireland clearly went beyond what was required at EU level and, combined with the fact that the official control regime here uncovered this problem, shows our commitment to maintaining the world-wide reputation of Irish food. Ireland will continue to show leadership on this issue, both nationally and in Europe.”