Martin McAdam, proprietor of McAdam Food Products, claimed that ABP made “false and malicious allegations” about him and his meat trading business in February 2013. The aim was allegedly “to deflect media attention from ABP which was at the centre of the horsemeat scandal at that particular time”.
ABP confirmed that its lawyers were notified on Tuesday August 14 that McAdam Food Products had issued defamation proceedings against the group. But the documents contained no specific information as to the details of the proceedings, it said.
“ABP has every intention of fighting this spurious claim and is continuing to investigate its legal options against McAdam Food Products and other parties who are found to have supplied beef contaminated by horsemeat,” said the food processor, based in Ardee, County Louth.
The Food Safety Authority of Ireland
The Food Safety Authority of Ireland revealed in January that its tests had discovered horse DNA in processed beef products. The announcement led to the withdrawal from sale of a range of beef products – including beef burgers and frozen lasagne – both in Ireland, the UK and Europe, after samples were found to contain trace levels of horse DNA.
Tests by Irish food inspectors revealed that the Silvercrest plant – owned at the time by ABP – was one of three meat processing plants in the UK and Ireland that had supplied beefburgers containing horse DNA. The plant was sold in April to the Irish-based Kepak Group.
The alleged defamation hinges on a press release issued by ABP in February 2013. It claimed: “ABP Food Group confirms that Silvercrest purchased beef products from McAdams Food Service (circa 170t out of total beef purchases in 2012 of 18,000t). It now appears that, while Silvercrest purchased these beef products in good faith, horse DNA originating in Poland was present in some of these products.”
Tested positive for horse DNA
McAdam’s legal representatives have told ABP that its statement was false because the firm did not supply the meat to Silvercrest which tested positive for horse DNA. McAdam supplied only 60t of beef in total to Silvercrest in 2012, and not 170t as stated in the ABP press release.
In February a spokesman for McAdam said the firm “had no awareness or knowledge, whatsoever, of any possibility of there being equine content in meat products imported and supplied by McAdam to any other company”.
The company complied with all required food industry standards and regulations, he added.
McAdam said it was confident the documentation and proof given to the Irish authorities would fully exonerate the company.
Notice of the proceedings in the Irish High Court has been served on ABP.
Meanwhile, the lessons of the horsemeat crisis will also be under review at Food Manufacture's one-day Food Safety conference, which will take place on Thursday, October 17 at the National Motorcycle Museum Birmingham.