Tesco ends deal with supplier in horse scandal

City A.M. Reporter
TESCO yesterday fired a supplier controlled by Ireland’s most powerful beef baron for selling it burgers containing horse meat.

The grocer also promised to use DNA testing equipment to check the content of products on its shelves.

Britain’s biggest supermarket chain is reeling from a wave of bad publicity after the Irish food safety authority discovered that 29 per cent of a frozen beef burger was horse meat.

“We took that decision with regret but the breach of trust is simply too great,” Tesco technical director Tim Smith said in a statement announcing the termination of its contract with Silvercrest, a subsidiary of Larry Goodman’s ABP Foods.

ABP, Europe’s largest beef exporter, tried to deflect blame for the scandal this week after the Irish government announced it had traced the source of the meat to a Polish supplier.

Catherine Brown, head of the Food Standards Agency, told MPs yesterday that horse meat may have been present in burgers for the past year, adding that there is no evidence of any health risk.

ABP said it had “never knowingly purchased or traded in equine product” but Tesco said it had failed to use meat from a list of approved suppliers and to honour an instruction to source ingredients exclusively in the UK and Ireland. Tesco said it would continue to buy Irish beef worth more than €100m (£85.9m) per year from other ABP companies.

“We expect this to reassure consumers and draw a line under the incident,” said Espirito Santo analyst Caroline Gulliver, who has a “sell” rating on the stock.