The report by UK newspaper The Guardian found ABP (Anglo-Irish Beef Processors) was supplied with meat by Willy Selten, a Dutch businessman.
When asked about the fresh evidence, ABP’s spokesman, Douglas Keatinge told FoodQualityNews.com ABP “had no direct business relationship with Willy Stelten but we understand meat sold to us by Norwest was on occasion sourced from him.”
Selten was arrested in May on suspicion of fraud and false accounting “when official tests on boxes of meat labelled as beef taken from his factory found horse DNA in 21% of them.”
He denied the charges and his lawyer claimed the old meat had been mixed as horsemeat for pet food rather than human consumption.
ABP reached a legal settlement in September with Norwest Foods, which acknowledged it "may" have supplied ABP with contaminated beef products.
The beef processor has separately "commenced proceedings in the Irish High Court against a second supplier – Poland’s Food Service - for supplying contaminated beef," added Keatinge.
“Green” meat made workers vomit
UK and Dutch journalists interviewed workers at Selten’s factory, who said they had processed both horsemeat and beef after hours at the plant.
According to the investigation, migrant staff were “paid cash-in-hand to process defrosted meat,” some of it so old it was “green”.
Speaking in Polish, one anonymous worker was filmed saying he had worked with “old, smelly meat.”
A second employee claimed “sometimes we received pallets with old meat. After the daily cleaning, in the evening we had to process this meat. It smelled so bad, that we had to cover our face with a cloth. I got sick of it, almost had to puke. It was so horrible, you can't imagine.
“We did package horsemeat as beef. We only had one sort of label, the ones for beef. We didn't have any others.”
It was reported “some meat from the plant was sent via a trader to the leading European supplier that manufactured adulterated beefburgers sold in several high street stores.”
The investigation allegedly found burgers from Tesco, Burger King, Co-op and Aldi, which were found to contain horsemeat “were all made by the ABP group in its Silvercrest factory.”
ABP employs around 10,500 people in Ireland, the UK, Holland and Poland.
The in-depth report traced the supply of horsemeat to Selten’s plant back to an abattoir in the UK called Red Lion, whose proprietors own a cargo company in Ireland.
Using data from animal rights campaigners, who had previously hidden cameras in the abattoir, the newspaper said it was “able to establish it had made deliveries to the Dutch business. Polish workers at Selten’s factory confirmed Red Lion lorries arrived once a week.”
Dutch meat industry: there will be a follow-up
Dé van de Riet, communications manager, Dutch Meat Manufacturers’ Association, told FoodQualityNews.com the Dutch Food Safety Authorities, Nederlandse Voedsel en Warenautoriteit (NVWA), had ordered in April “a massive recall of all the products” from Selten’s Dutch plant.
The case is currently under investigation by the NVWA and by a special research committee, said van de Riet, “and we are awaiting and working on the outcome of these steps.
“Our organization takes part in the committee which focuses on concerns about food safety, fair trade, quality systems, public trust and good communication.”
This should result in the committee giving suitable advice about future action to the government, he said.
“So, there’s still a lot going on and we take our part of the responsibility concerning the follow-up, [and advising authorities] about the near future, in which we hope - as a Dutch Meat business - that we will not be confronted any more with this kind of international fraud.”
ABP's spokesman maintained the company had "unknowingly bought horsemeat, and if equine was deliberately introduced into the food chain, then we are among those who have suffered as a result of such activity."