By Martin Walker
Tesco’s multi-million-pound store in Newton Aycliffe has been forced to withdraw burgers from shelves following the shocking horsemeat revelations.
As revealed this week, horsemeat has been discovered in beefburgers sold by the supermarket giants Tesco and Iceland.
Since the revelations, almost £300m has been wiped off the value of Tesco, which rakes in £50m a year from its Aycliffe store.
Investigators said that in Tesco’s Everday Value burgers, horsemeat accounted for almost one third of the meat content.
The Republic of Ireland’s food safety authority (FSAI) claimed meat with “horse DNA” sold in UK and Irish supermarkets had originated from two processing plants in Ireland – Liffey Meats and Silvercrest Foods – and the Dalepak Hambleton plant in North Yorkshire.
The Food Standards Agency, working with the Irish authorities, established that mainland Britain was part of the area affected.
A spokesman said: “At this stage it is not believed to be a food safety risk.
“We are aware that investigations are ongoing to ascertain how or why horsemeat was used in the products.”
A total of 27 beef products were analysed by the FSAI with 10 containing horse DNA and a further 23 containing traces of pig DNA.
Tesco immediately withdrew from sale all products from the processing plants, including at its Aycliffe store, said its group technical director Tim Smith.
“The presence of illegal meat in our products is extremely serious,” he added.
“We understand that many of our customers will be concerned by this news, and we apologise sincerely for any distress.”
The FSAI analysis also found traces of horse DNA in batches of raw ingredients, including some imported from the Netherlands and Spain.
Professor Alan Reilly, the FSAI chief executive, said there was “no clear explanation” for the presence of horse DNA in beef burgers. “In Ireland it is not in our culture to eat horsemeat and therefore we do not expect to find it in a burger.”
Iceland said it had noted the FSAI’s findings “with concern”. A statement from the chain said it would work with suppliers to investigate the issue. The budget supermarket Aldi confirmed that its Oakhurst Beef Burgers range on sale in Ireland had been affected and had been withdrawn from sale.