Horsemeat: Freeza Meats denies ownership of contaminated meat
Published:  05 February, 2013

The Northern Ireland meat company at the centre of the latest horsemeat revelations has said that it was simply storing the contaminated meat for an Irish meat trader.

The Food Standards Agency (FSA) revealed yesterday that meat held in a cold store at Freeza Meats, Newry, contained as much as 80% horsemeat. However, the company stressed today that it had never owned the contaminated meat.

A spokesperson explained that Freeza was offered “a parcel of raw material” by a trader from County Monaghan in August 2012. Freeza declined to buy the meat, but agreed to store it as a gesture of “goodwill”. The raw material, which was stored in a separate facility, was later put in quarantine by an Environmental Health Officer (EHO) and Freeza was therefore unable to move it from its facilities.

“This raw material was not purchased by Freeza Meats and never reached the food chain through this company. We have under legal jurisdiction been required to detain the product in quarantine awaiting the direction of the local Environmental Health Office,” said the spokesperson.

The company added that the contaminated meat had at no point come into contact with its own products, and that routine DNA testing on its burgers and finished products had come back negative for horsemeat.

“There have been no traces of equine DNA in any samples taken from Freeza Meats products,” said the spokesperson.

A statement from Newry and Mourne District Council’s Environmental Health Department, which carried out testing at the Freeza Meats facility following the results of the Food Safety Authority of Ireland’s survey in January, confirmed that Freeza’s products were free from non-beef DNA.

“However, twelve samples of Polish meat belonging to another company which is under investigation following the horse DNA results from Silvercrest were sent for DNA analysis. Two of these samples contained approximately 80% horse DNA,” it added.

“This meat had been detained for the last five months due to the condition of its wrapping and queries regarding its labelling and traceability.  

“The product was sampled as a result of the Food Standards Agency and the Food Safety Authority of Ireland’s on-going investigation.  We can confirm that none of the meat was used in production and it will not be entering the food chain.”

Freeza said it was concerned that mis-reporting over the contamination at its facility could threaten the job security of its 45 staff. “Giving the sensitivities of the area in which we work jobs could be put unnecessarily at risk by misinformation. We look forward to working with the relevant agencies in Northern Ireland to resolve this issue.”

Meatinfo.co.uk has so far been unable to independently verify the owner of the contaminated raw material.
              




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