Newry company cleared of horse meat involvement
Tuesday, 12 February 2013
A NEWRY company that found itself at the centre of the horse meat scandal has been backed by local organisations and individuals.
Councillors, MLAs and the Environmental Health Department have all come forward to clear Freeza Meats of any involvement in the controversy.
The confusion began last week when the Food Standards Agency released a statement saying it had discovered horse meat on the company's premises.
The statement also linked the company to the Silvercrest factory where horse DNA had previously been found in beef.
However, Freeza Meats denied any link to Silvercrest and added that the contaminated meat discovered on its premises did not belong to it.
“In August 2012 we were approached by the meat trader McAdam Foods Services in County Monaghan to purchase a parcel of raw material, which we declined," a Freeza Meats spokesman said.
“Martin McAdam subsequently asked us to hold his product in storage which we did in goodwill in a separated area of the storage facility.
“This raw material was not purchased by Freeza Meats and never reached the food chain through this company.
“We have, under legal jurisdiction, been required to detain the product in quarantine awaiting the direction of the local Environmental Health Office.
"There have been no traces of equine DNA in any samples taken from Freeza Meats products."
The Newry and Mourne Environmental Health Department confirmed that Freeza Meats was free of contamination.
“DNA tests on samples of burgers made at Freeza Meats were found to be free from non-beef DNA," a council spokeswoman said.
“Twelve samples of Polish meat belonging to another company which is under investigation following the horse DNA results from Silvercrest were sent for DNA analysis.
“This meat had been detained for the last five months due to the condition of its wrapping and queries regarding its labelling and traceability.
“We can confirm that none of the meat was used in production and it will not be entering the food chain.
“Freeza Meats of Newry have co-operated fully with our investigation."
Newry and Armagh MLA Dominic Bradley has called for an urgent meeting between the departments of Enterprise and Agriculture, the Foods Standards Agency, Environmental Health, Freeza Meats and ASDA to ensure the company is not tarnished by the scandal.
“I believe 50 jobs may have been inadvertently put at risk within my constituency by poor communication by the FSA," he said.
“Freeza meat products have been cleared of equine DNA by both the Environmental Health Office and ASDA.
“The company have only continued to store the meat in question at the insistence of Environmental Health despite the company's numerous requests to dispose of it."
Newry councillor Frank Feely, who was involved in helping the company get set up in Newry more than 20 years ago, blasted the FSA for dragging Freeza Meats into the debacle.
“The statement released by the FSA in relation to Freeza Meats was totally inaccurate and utterly irresponsible," he said.
“They should have contacted Environmental Health before issuing such a dangerous statement.
“All of Freeza Meat's products have now been tested and have come back 100 per cent clear.
“I'm very annoyed at the FSA for dragging a sound local company into disrepute and jeopardising 50 much needed jobs."
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