The fast food giant announced the move yesterday, stating that the decision had been taken despite the fact that its own tests had not indicated the presence of equine DNA.
However, earlier tests on four Silvercrest product by the Irish Food Safety Authority had proved positive, sparking a scandal that has seen several high profile retail chains turn their backs on the firm. They include Tesco, whose products initially tested positive for horse meat, the Co-operative Group and Aldi.
In a statement issued yesterday, Burger King said: “Within the last 36 hours, we have established that Silvercrest used a small percentage of beef imported from a non-approved supplier in Poland.
“They promised to deliver 100% British & Irish beef patties and have not done so. This is a clear violation of our specifications, and we have terminated our relationship with them.”
Explaining the process it had gone through to arrive at this conclusion, the foodservice chain said: “Earlier this month, we were notified that Silvercrest was under investigation for potential contamination of some retail products.”
“At that time, they were approved to supply 100% Irish and British beef patties for Burger King restaurants in the UK, Ireland and Denmark.
“Despite assurances from them that our products were not implicated, we immediately launched our own internal investigation, which included scientific testing, inspection of the Silvercrest facility and scrutiny of traceability records.
“As we confirmed on January 23, we transitioned all of our restaurants in the UK, Ireland and Denmark to other Burger King approved suppliers from Germany and Italy as a precaution. These suppliers have provided DNA evidence to confirm their products are free of equine DNA. These are the product being sold in our restaurants today.”
Diego Beamonte, vice president, global quality, Burger King Corporation said: “While the Food Safety Authority of Ireland has stated that this is not a food safety issue, we are deeply troubled by the findings of our investigation and apologise to our guests, who trust us to source only the highest quality 100% beef burgers. Our supplier has failed us and in turn we have failed you. We are committed to ensuring that this does not happen again.”
“We will dedicate ourselves to determining what lessons can be learned and what additional measures, including DNA testing and enhanced traceability controls, can be taken to ensure that we continue to provide you with the quality products you expect from us.”
'Let its customers down'
Meanwhile, in a statement, ABP Foods apologised that it had “let its customers down” through the horse meat incident.
Paul Finnerty, ABP Food Group chief executive, said: “We have learnt important lessons from this incident and we are determined to ensure that this never happens again”.
The company stated: “We have already implemented total management change at the Silvercrest facility – which remains closed. We also have effected a group re-organisation to better manage our Convenience foods business.
“We have put in place new procedures to audit all our third party suppliers. We have also established comprehensive DNA testing procedures – we will become an industry leader in this area.”