Supermarket Tesco has dropped Silvercrest as a supplier, it has emerged today and vowed to implement DNA testing across all its meat products in future.
Following the horsemeat scandal which found several of Britain’s leading supermarkets to be selling beef burgers containing horse and pig DNA, Tesco and others including Iceland and Waitrose have removed any potentially contaminated items from shelves pending further investigation.
However, last week a BBC reporter was able to purchase its ‘Free From’ own-brand frozen burgers which had supposedly been removed from shelves as a precaution and the grocer was forced to apologise.
This week, Poland was confirmed by the Food Safety Authority of Ireland, which launched the initial investigation, as the source of the contaminated meat after further investigation found that the meat was imported as raw material by supplier Silvercrest.
Following this news, Tesco’s Group Technical Director Tim Smith, explained that the supermarket has “thoroughly” investigated the source of the contamination and shared the findings.
“The evidence tells us that our frozen burger supplier, Silvercrest, used meat in our products that did not come from the list of approved suppliers we gave them,” he said.
“Nor was the meat from the UK or Ireland, despite our instruction that only beef from the UK and Ireland should be used in our frozen beef burgers.
“Consequently we have decided not to take products from that supplier in future.
“We took that decision with regret but the breach of trust is simply too great.”
The chain will be hoping that the severance of the relationship will strengthen its position within the volatile grocery market, though figures released yesterday by Kantar Worldpanel reveal that Tesco maintained overall market share of 30.4 per cent while its market share growth reached 3.3 per cent.
Looking ahead, the grocer will be making changes to its product testing, which Smith specified will be a substantial investment in a bid to placate customers’ fears.
“To underpin the strong measures already in place, we will now introduce a comprehensive system of DNA testing across our meat products,” Smith said.
“This will identify any deviation from our high standards.These checks will set a new standard.
“It will be a significant investment for Tesco, borne by Tesco.
“We want to leave customers in no doubt that we will do whatever it takes to ensure the quality of their food and that the food they buy is exactly what the label says it is.”