Some beef burgers sold in UK branches of Aldi, Lidl, Tesco and Iceland have been withdrawn from sale after food inspectors in Ireland found traces of horse DNA in them.

Food inspectors in Ireland have announced finding horse DNA in beef burgers sold in UK and Ireland branches of Tesco, Aldi, Lidl and Iceland.

Inspectors in Ireland found horse DNA in 10 of the 27 beef burger products they studied.The news was announced by the Food Standard Authority of Ireland (FSAI) after its inspectors examined 27 beef burger products and found that 10 of them tested positive for horse DNA. One sample from Tesco, meanwhile, was found to have 29% horse meat.

In addition, 85% of the 27 products also tested positive for pig DNA, as well as 21 of 31 studied beef meal products (cottage pie, beef curry pie, lasagne, etc). However, these meals were negative for horse DNA.

The beef burger products that tested positive have been identified as being produced by two processing plants in Ireland (Liffey Meats and Silvercrest Foods) and one plant (Dalepak Hambleton) in the UK. According to reports, the affected retailers have withdrawn all suspected products from their shelves.

According to Alan Reilly, chief executive of the FSAI, these findings pose no risk to public health. However, they do raise some concerns as to traceability of ingredients.

“The products we have identified as containing horse DNA and/or pig DNA do not pose any food safety risk and consumers should not be worried,” said Prof Reilly. “Consumers who have purchased any of the implicated products can return them to their retailer.

“While there is a plausible explanation for the presence of pig DNA in these products due to the fact that meat from different animals is processed in the same meat plants, there is no clear explanation at this time for the presence of horse DNA in products emanating from meat plants that do not use horse meat in their production process.

“We are working with the meat processing plants and [Ireland’s] Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and the Marine to find out how horse DNA could have found its way into these products.”

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