FSA reports second wave of species identification test results

Additional results have come in under a United Kingdom-wide testing program for horse meat in beef products.

So far, more than 99 percent (or 3,599 samples) of samples tested contained no horse DNA “at or above the level of 1 percent.” Less than 1 percent (35 results) of samples tested contained horse DNA at or above the threshold of 1 percent, according to results from the U.K.’s Food Standards Agency (FSA).

The positive results came from products known to have previously tested positive for horse DNA and already have been pulled from shelves.

FSA reported the first round of test results under its expanded species identification testing program Feb. 15. As of then, 2,472 were negative for horse DNA and 29 were positive.

So far, none of samples that tested positive for horse DNA have tested positive for phenylbutazone, an anti-inflammatory drug often used to treat pain in horses. Animals that contain phenylbutazone, or bute, are not allowed to enter the food chain for human consumption.

The number of samples collected represent about 90 percent of those required from retailers and 80 percent of those required from wholesalers and caterers, FSA reports. Additional results are slated for publication this Friday.

Additionally, FSA began testing ready-to-eat meals and processed beef products, such as burgers, this week as part of its own program. Initial results are expected in March and will serve to validate the testing conducted by the food industry.

“However, our work is far from done. The sampling program being carried out by local authorities on behalf of the FSA is already well under way and we expect to report the initial findings from that work in early March,” FSA Chief Executive Catherine Brown said in a statement. “We are also committed to pursuing enforcement action where we can, to ensure that those who were at fault take full responsibility for their actions. We are determined to get to the bottom of this to find out exactly what happened – and to make sure it doesn’t happen again.”

In January, routine testing uncovered horse and swine DNA in beef products. The discovery was the result of a probe into meat authenticity in Ireland. Of the 27 beef burgers tested, 10 contained horse DNA and 23 contained pig DNA.

The discovery led to public outcry and concerns about meat labeling and authenticity.

For more on this story from Neogen blog, click here.

For more information on species identification testing from Neogen, click here.

For more on phenylbutazone testing from Neogen, click here.

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