Horse News

Multi-million Blitz to Repair Irish Horse-Meat PR Damage

By Ralph Riegel of the Irish

“This was an imported problem in the Irish food industry and it is important to stress that,”

DNAIRELAND will spend millions of euro in a food promotion blitz to counteract the damage threatened by the horse-meat burger scandal.

Agriculture Minister Simon Coveney expressed his “deep frustration” that such a food scandal could erupt at the very time Irish food exports were booming.

Mr Coveney was scathing of the management of Silvercrest‘s Ballybay plant in Monaghan which, since horse DNA was found in beef-burger products, has lost €50m-plus contracts from Tesco, Burger King, Asda, The Co-op and Aldi.

To counteract possible damage, Bord Bia will expand a food promotion programme in the UK – which is the market most impacted by the horse-meat scandal.

“This was an imported problem in the Irish food industry and it is important to stress that,” Mr Coveney added.

Asked about funds for the food promotion campaign, Mr Coveney said: “An Bord Bia was the only agency linked to my department that got an increase in funding in the recent Budget, despite all the cutbacks in expenditure that we have to make.

“It has a big job to do to build on the momentum and potential that is clearly there in the Irish agri-food sector.”

More than 200,000 people are employed in the agri-food sector, with 60pc of exporting firms operating in the sector. Beef exports have soared by 28pc in value since 2010.

Marketing data so far has suggested that the horse-meat crisis has been contained and there will be no major fallout for the wider beef sector.

UK media outlets have given credit to Ireland’s food safety authorities for having first detected and then highlighted the problem.

Desperate efforts are now under way to salvage the lost burger contracts and ensure they are taken up by other Irish suppliers.


Mr Coveney said he shared the concerns of the 140 Ballybay workers over their jobs.

He said the plant, which is capable of producing 200 million burgers a year, is a vital part of Ireland’s agri-food infrastructure.

Officials from the Silvercrest plant are expected to be called before an Oireachtas committee to be quizzed about the controversy, chairman Andrew Doyle TD said.

New test results from Poland are due today on the source of the horse meat – although previous tests in that country proved negative.

Meanwhile, a food processor in Strabane, Co Tyrone has been named as the company which supplied halal meat with traces of pork to prisons in the UK.

McColgan Quality Foods was found to be the source of what is described as “the very small number of Halal savoury beef pastry products” that were found to contain pork DNA supplied to prisons even though the company is a certified halal supplier.

Under Islamic law, the consumption of pork is strictly prohibited.

However, a spokesperson for the Food Safety Authority of Ireland (FSAI) last night insisted that there is no concern that any pork-containing halal products were being distributed south of the border by McColgan or other suppliers.

In the UK, major retailers and suppliers will meet Britain’s Food Standards Agency today to work out how to prevent food becoming contaminated and entering the supply chain.

The FSA ordered the meeting last week following a spate of mis-labelled or contaminated food products reaching the public.

– Ralph Riegel

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3 replies »

  1. Its too bad this has to happen at all. Someone some where knows what happened. It could even be possible that some of the horse meat came from the US. It just goes to show you that there are crooks and greedy people all over the World. It appears that they care nothing about the emploees who are employed at these companies or the consumers who purchase the products. This is why it is critical that we pass laws bringing an end to horse slaughter in the US and imploy the foreign countries to enforce the EU Regulations.


  2. It is no surprise that so much money is spent to smooth down the fur of the upset public. The faster the better.

    What the public has to do is resist. Resist sweeping this issue under the rug. Be disgusted with the practice of gathering scrapes and pieces from multiple animals in huge bins. So that is hamburger now? No better than dog food which mentions scrapes and parts of animals. The public will be the ones to put a stop to this corporate killing and corrupting of our food supply.

    Does anyone remember the film called “Solyent Green?”. I ended up walking out in disgust but I will never forget the lies and psychological control over people by profiteers seeking to rise themselves over all others. And don’t forget aNimal Farm. Some animals are more equal than others.


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