Horse DNA in beef burgers raises traceability worries

| January 25, 2013

A recent study by the Food Safety Authority of Ireland (FSAI) found that 10 out of 27 beef burger products tested positive for the presence of horse DNA.

The tests, part of a targeted study into the authenticity of various meat products on retail sale, also found horse DNA in some imported raw ingredients and pig DNA in 23 beef burger products and in 21 beef meal products.

In most cases, only trace levels of horse DNA were present, although the result for one sample of Tesco ‘value beef burgers’ indicated the presence of 29% horsemeat. The burgers tested were manufactured at two plants in Ireland and one in England, but none of them routinely process horsemeat. A number of product recalls have been initiated in response to the results and investigations by FSAI and the UK Food Standards Agency are under way.

While the Authority acknowledges that the presence of horse DNA does not present any direct threat to human health, it does raise questions over the traceability of meat ingredients and products entering the food chain.

FSAI statement
UK FSA statement

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