Horsemeat: FSAI hits back at supermarkets undermining testing procedures

The Food Safety Authority of Ireland (FSAI) described attempts by supermarkets to question the accuracy of its horsemeat DNA testing as "disingenuous, dishonest and untruthful" and remained confident in its testing.

In a statement released today, the FSAI claimed: "Some small segment of the retail sector is seeking to undermine the actual results in an attempt to distance themselves from the scientifically sound results which have implications for their product."

The release comes after Iceland claimed on Friday that the testing method used was not an "accredited test".

The FSAI found 0.1% equine DNA in Iceland Quarter Pounder burgers, with Iceland removing the product immediately. However, when tested again, the burgers were found to contain no horsemeat.

Today, Iceland claimed to accept the testing procedures, due to it being commonly used in many parts of the world, "even though the head of the UK Food Standards Authority (FSA) informed the House of Commons Committee investigating this matter that it was ‘not an accredited test’ in the UK".

Following the new EU testing regime proposing a 1% limit, which, if below, will not be reported, Iceland complained the findings of horsemeat in their products were a mere 10th of that.

The FSAI, commenting on Iceland’s allegations, said: "In the case of the burgers from Iceland, a level of 0.1% equine DNA was detected in samples tested by Identigen. This positive finding is still relevant and should, of itself, trigger investigation."

FSAI chief executive Professor Alan Reilly, stated: "It is unprofessional that a vested interest would seek to undermine our position with misinformation and speculation. Science underpins all policies and actions undertaken by the FSAI.

The FSAI has confirmed that it is confident in the competence of the laboratories used for the testing procedures, and claimed that the services of both testing laboratories "continue to be used by regulators and industry alike across Europe".

Regarding speculation that the FSAI carried out its initial testing after being informed of the horsemeat DNA by an insider, Reilly claimed: "In addition, for clarity too, a number of UK media are seeking to suggest, incorrectly, that the FSAI undertook its original survey in 2012 following information it had received.

"The FSAI again states that there is no truth in this whatsoever; the survey was undertaken as part of our routine monitoring and market surveillance activities," he added.

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