Silvercrest remains closed as committee gears up to quetion ABP and Coveney

THE ABP group will find out today (Tuesday) if they are to go before a Oireachtas Committee relating to the horse meat that was found in burgers produced by Silvercrest Foods in Ballybay.

THE ABP group will find out today (Tuesday) if they are to go before a Oireachtas Committee relating to the horse meat that was found in burgers produced by Silvercrest Foods in Ballybay.

The Chair of the Oireachtas Agriculture Committee, Fine Gael TD Andrew Doyle, has said the committee will make a decision today about whether to call the ABP Food Group before it for questioning.

The beef-processing firm, which owns the Silvercrest plant in Co Monaghan, is at the centre of the horse meat controversy.

However, the group have told the Monaghan Democrat that currently they have no plans for job losses at the plant.

“No decision has been made on timing of a re-opening. There are no plans for redundancies, normal conditions of employment remain in place and staff continue to be paid.”

ABP has lost contracts with a number of supermarkets after frozen burgers made at the plant were found to contain horse DNA, most notably Burger King, the Co-op and Tesco.

Mr Doyle said a number of committee members want to question executives from ABP.

Minister for Agriculture Simon Coveney and officials from the Food Safety Authority are due to appear before the committee on Tuesday.

Last week the Department of Agriculture said that it’s tests pointed towards Poland as the source of the meat which contained horse DNA.

Coveney said that tests on samples taken from Irish ingredients had come back negative, and said he was“pleased that the integrity of Irish food production was maintained.”

Yet this week, the Polish Department of Agriculture has revealed that its investigations into the source of horse meat at meat plants in the country have so far proved negative.

Mr Naze said samples taken at those plants have not proved positive for horse meat.

He said that its investigation is continuing and he will have a final report to send to his Irish counterparts next week.

It is unclear if Silvercrest will reopen for business at this stage, and with the business accounting for just 4 per cent of ABP Foods’ €2.5bn revenues, it looks increasingly likely the plant could be closed for sometime to come.

On its website ABP say “ We in ABP Food Group acknowledge the Tesco Statement of this morning. We understand their decision to stop sourcing from Silvercrest Foods but also welcome their decision to continue sourcing fresh beef from other ABP companies.

The ABP Food Group has developed a very strong business - based on trust. We have let our customers down in this incident and we apologise for this.

Paul Finnerty, ABP Food Group CEO said :

“We have learnt important lessons from this incident and we are determined to ensure that this never happens again”.

“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.

“We are proud of our excellent reputation for quality and service throughout Europe and are determined not to allow the Silvercrest incident overshadow what is a great business.”