Updated: STORES across York, North and East Yorkshire run by two supermarket chains have taken beefburgers which became contaminated with horsemeat off their shelves.
Irish food safety officials said the affected products had been stocked by several firms, including Tesco and Iceland – who, between them, have 23 stores in the region – with the meat coming from the Dalepak Hambleton plant in North Yorkshire and two others in the Republic of Ireland.
The Government has said it is now working with the Food Standards Agency (FSA) to “urgently investigate” the matter, with Prime Minister David Cameron yesterday saying the discovery was “extremely disturbing” and “completely unacceptable”.
The FSA has said there is no risk to public safety, but the investigation will attempt to trace the source of the contaminated meat, while it has also called a meeting of food industry representatives.
Tesco said it withdrew two frozen burger products from the supplier concerned after the test results emerged on Tuesday, with its group technical director Tim Smith saying food safety and quality was “of the highest importance” and “the presence of illegal meat in our products is extremely serious”.
He said Tesco was “working with the authorities in Ireland and the UK, and with the supplier concerned, to urgently understand how this has happened and how to ensure it does not happen again”, adding that the chain would not take any products from this supplier until the investigation is concluded.
Iceland said it had also withdrawn two own-brand burger products involved, with a spokesman saying it would be “working closely with its suppliers to investigate this issue”.
A spokesman for Dalepak, which is based near Northallerton, said the firm was currently conducting independent tests on its products, but it was not yet known how long this would take to complete.
He said: “Analysis is taking place right now, but we won’t have more information until that analysis is complete.”
The ABP Food Group, of which Dalepak Hambleton is a subsidiary, has promised to adopt strict DNA testing of its products to prevent a repeat, with a spokesman saying it was “vital that the integrity of the supply chain is assured” and it was “committed to restoring consumer confidence”.