Firm was warned on Tuesday about horsemeat in Gwent burgers
12:10pm Friday 22nd February 2013 in Campaign news
A DISTRIBUTION firm was warned on Tuesday that there may be problems at a manufacturer which makes burgers sold to three Gwent councils, the Argus has learned.
Beefburgers sold to Monmouthshire, Caerphilly, Blaenau Gwent and other Welsh councils were recalled by distributor Holdsworth Foods after it was warned by the Burger Manufacturing Company (BMC) in Powys.
The manufacturer told the Argus that burgers supplied to Holdsworth contained horsemeat, and claimed that it was supplied by a firm that has been raided by officials.
Blaenau Gwent has withdrawn burgers from six schools. Caerphilly council confirmed that it has removed BMC products from primary schools as a precaution, while Monmouthshire has also pulled burgers from primary schools.
The Foods Standards Agency reported on Thursday that three samples of beef burger products made by BMC had been tested positive for at least one per cent horsemeat.
James Trevethick of Holdsworth Foods in Derbyshire, which supplied the burgers to Welsh councils, said it was verbally warned on Tuesday by BMC that there may be an issue with their product.
"At that point we immediate suspended it and ordered a recall," he said.
On Thursday Holdsworth was informed that BMC's product had tested positive for horse DNA.
However Mr Trevethick said the firm still has not had any confirmation that any of the products supplied to Welsh councils has tested positive for horsemeat - it is conducting its own tests.
Holdsworth has issued a replacement product which it says Mr Trevethick says the firm is confident does not contain horsemeat.
BMC's Mark Cornall said at this stage they do not know what percentage of horsemeat was in the burgers supplied to Holdsworth – it has recalled 43,000 burgers supplied Holdsworth' depot in Crickhowell.
He said that the meat came from Farmbox Meats in Llandre, near Aberyswryth. Two men from the company are currently reported to be on bail after being arrested on suspicion of Fraud Act offences.
"The last thing we wanted to do was supply something that wasn't what it’s supposed to be... At no point did we ever know that there would be anything other than beef.
"Of course we are devastated by that and we can only apologise profusely for it. We are doing everything we can to rectify it."
Blaenau Gwent confirmed this morning that its school meals service withdrew a frozen burger product that had been delivered to six schools as a precautionary measure.
A spokeswoman said: "Blaenau Gwent Catering is part of the Welsh Purchasing Consortium and all products are purchased through the consortium. We are being kept informed by the consortium and our own procurement department of all developments."
The FSA said further work is being carried out to establish exactly how much horse meat these products at BMC contain, and to test for the presence of the veterinary medicine phenylbutazone, or bute.
BMC has withdrawn the products affected.