Horsemeat: Operations suspended at Irish meat plant

Food safety officials in Ireland have suspended operations at a meat plant found to be supplying horsemeat labelled as beef to the Czech Republic.

The Irish Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine confirmed that B&F Meats, a plant approved to debone beef and horsemeat, had been shipping horsemeat to a single customer in the Czech Republic via a UK-based meat trader. The meat was labelled as ‘beef’ in Czech.

All operations at the plant have been suspended and officers of the Department’s Special Investigation Unit (SIU) entered the plant last week to carry out investigations.

Agriculture minister Simon Coveney said: "I am seriously concerned about this development and the Gardai have been fully appraised of this development and are working closely with my department. The issue here is one of mislabelling and that will be the focus of the investigation."

Meanwhile, Irish investigations into the horsemeat scandal continue. The investigation, which is being led by the SIU in conjunction with the Garda National Bureau of Criminal Investigation, involves forensic examination of electronic data and records associated with beef consigments. A number of food business operators, including meat traders, transporters, processers and exporters are also under investigation.

Irish authorities are liaising with Europol, the EU police agency co-ordinating European investigations into the scandal.

Ireland is also carrying out extensive testing of beef products in the wake of the scandal. Fifty beef products will be tested for horsemeat in March as part of the EU-agreed control plan, and a protocol for wider testing of beef products has been agreed with the Food Standards Authority of Ireland (FSAI), meat processors, retailers and caterers.


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