Burger King revealed Thursday that some of its products may have contained trace amounts of horse DNA, after earlier severing ties to an Irish meat supplier linked to the horsemeat scandal in the United Kingdom and Ireland as a "precaution."
The fast-food chain, which operates more than 500 stores in the UK, released a statement
following an investigation of its meat that was sparked by a horsemeat scandal in January.
"Our independent DNA test results on products taken from restaurants were negative for any equine DNA. However, four samples recently taken from the Silvercrest plant have shown the presence of very small trace levels of equine DNA," the statement said. "Within the last 36 hours, we have established that Silvercrest used a small percentage of beef imported from a non-approved supplier in Poland. They promised to deliver 100 percent British and Irish beef patties and have not done so. This is a clear violation of our specifications, and we have terminated our relationship with them."
The Burger King horsemeat allegations were part of a larger examination into the purity of meat in Europe after tests conducted by the Food Safety Authority of Ireland, in conjunction with Britain's Food Standards Agency, found that beef burgers sold by grocers there contained at least trace amounts of horse DNA. The contaminated meat was linked to three processing plants, including Silvercrest Foods, a subsidiary of ABP Food Group, one of the suppliers for Burger King locations in the UK and Ireland.
When the news of the horsemeat scandal broke, Burger King posted a statement on its website saying it had dropped Silvercrest as a "voluntary and precautionary measure."
Though food safety experts say horsemeat poses no health risks to consumers, the discovery raised concerns about the food supply chain and tracing the source of meat ingredients.
Diego Beamonte, vice president of Global Quality at Burger King Corporation, further apologized for disappointing customers.
"While the Food Safety Authority of Ireland has stated that this is not a food safety issue, we are deeply troubled by the findings of our investigation and apologize to our guests, who trust us to source only the highest quality 100% beef burgers," Beaumonte said in the statement. "Our supplier has failed us and in turn we have failed you. We will dedicate ourselves to determining what lessons can be learned and what additional measures can be taken to ensure that we continue to provide you with the quality products you expect from us."
Consumer reactions were mixed.
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