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Jobs threat at Silvercrest after BK and Tesco cancel meat contracts

By Lorraine Mullaney , 04-Feb-2013

Uncertainty hangs over the future of 112 Silvercrest workers, after Burger King, Tesco and the Co-operative Group severed contracts with the supplier, according to the union Unite.

112 Silvercrest plant workers have been suspended with pay

112 Silvercrest plant workers have been suspended with pay

Unite the union has written to ABP Foods to express its concern over the fate of the 112 workers employed at the meat processor’s Silvercrest facility in County Monaghan, Ireland.

ABP Foods halted production at its Silvercrest facility when horse meat was detected in beef products produced at the site.

The workers were suspended on full pay on January 18 and the site has remained closed ever since.

A spokesman for Unite in Ireland told FoodManufacture.co.uk: We’ve written to the company asking for information and an update on the impact the loss of contracts will have across the group.

112 workers suspended

“The issue is that 112 workers have been suspended because the plant is closed. The question remains about whether the plant will re-open.”

The union has not yet received a response.

When asked about the fate of the workers at the site, a spokeswoman for ABP Foods told FoodManufacture.co.uk: “ABP’s position on the loss of Silvercrest contracts is the same as set out in its statement of January 30. The company will not be commenting further at this stage.”

The statement issued on January 30 acknowledged that Tesco had severed its contract with Silvercrest Foods and apologised to its customers for letting them down.

ABP Food Group ceo Paul Finnerty said: “We have learnt important lessons from this incident and we are determined to ensure this never happens again.”

‘Total management change’

Since the incident occurred, ABP said it had implemented “total management change”, including a group reorganisation and new procedures to audit all of its third-party suppliers.

It stated: “We have also established comprehensive DNA testing procedures – we will become an industry leader in this area.”

Whether this will save the jobs of the 112 workers at the Silvercrest site is another matter.

Burger King concluded its own investigation into the scandal last week with a severance of its contract with Silvercrest and the publication of an apology in the national press.

A statement from Burger King said: “Our independent DNA test results on product taken from Burger King 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. This product was never sold to our restaurants.

“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% 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.

In addition to Burger King and Tesco, Silvercrest burger products have also been delisted with the Co-operative Group and Aldi Ireland.

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