ULSTER Unionist Agriculture spokesperson, Jo-Anne Dobson MLA, has revealed that horsemeat has been found in the burgers being served at Northern Ireland’s agricultural campuses at Loughry and Greenmount.
This was discovered following a question put to the Sinn Fein Agriculture, Minister Michelle O’Neill, by the Ulster Unionist Upper Bann MLA.
In her answer the Minister confirmed that burgers containing horse meat have been supplied to the Eurest outlets at Greenmount and Loughry campuses of CAFRE. CAFRE has a service contract with Eurest (a subsidiary of Compass) which commenced in August 2011, to provide catering across the three CAFRE campuses.
She continued: “Compass took the precautionary measure of withdrawing from the menu all burgers supplied by a manufacturer within its supply chain, whose products were referred to in the media and sent samples for testing. Subsequently, on Thursday 14 February, the test results revealed traces of equine DNA which Compass notified immediately to CAFRE Management. On Friday 15 February, as soon as CAFRE received written confirmation from Compass, all staff and students were notified of the situation.
“I can also confirm Serco provides the catering services in Dundonald House. They are not aware of any instance where horsemeat has been confirmed in any of the products sold by them.”
Mrs Dobson said situation raises further serious procurement issues.
“The irony is that students at CAFRE colleges spend their school day learning about best farming practice, but when they sit down in the canteen, burgers containing horsemeat are on the menu.
“And all this happened under the Agriculture Minister`s nose at a time when she should be standing up for Northern Ireland beef farmers.
“Northern Ireland has the best beef in Europe and yet we have a Department of Agriculture procuring meat products from processors who are damaging the stellar reputation of our farmers. Farmers must not become the fall guys for dubious processing practices.
“The Agriculture Minister, Michelle O’Neill needs to urgently return consumer confidence to the industry.”