Silvercrest supplied most of the supermarket chains in Ireland and Britain. After the Irish findings Jan. 15, Silvercrest withdrew about 10 million burgers from those stores. It suspended all production a week later once a second round of DNA tests found more horsemeat traces in recently produced burgers.
Silvercrest’s parent company, ABP Food Group, said in a statement it understood Tesco’s decision and would introduce its own random DNA testing of products at all of its facilities in Ireland and Britain. Other Irish processors say they plan to follow suit.
Food policy experts say meat labels may eventually be changed in many countries to reflect the kind of warnings already familiar for people allergic to nuts: This beef product may contain traces of other animals.
Wall said consumers shouldn’t be unduly unsettled by the Irish findings, which included results showing that most cheaply produced ‘‘beef’’ burgers also contained minute elements of pork. He said such molecular transfers were almost impossible to prevent though, until now they hadn’t been measured.
‘‘People need to understand how sensitive these DNA tests are,’’ Wall said. ‘‘This thing will pick up molecules. So if horsemeat traveled in a refrigerated lorry one day and beef was carried in it the next day, molecules would travel over.’’
He also said if both horse and beef were processed at the same facility ‘‘you could get a carry-over of molecules.’’