Horsemeat scandal: Whitbread makes ‘shocking’ discovery

By Luke Nicholls

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags Food standards agency Whitbread

The products containing horsemeat were reportedly sold in Whitbread's Premier Inn, Brewers Fayre, Beefeater Grill and Table Table outlets
The products containing horsemeat were reportedly sold in Whitbread's Premier Inn, Brewers Fayre, Beefeater Grill and Table Table outlets
The UK’s largest hotel and restaurant operator, Whitbread, has found horsemeat in its lasagne and beef burger products that were reportedly sold in Premier Inn, Brewers Fayre, Beefeater Grill and Table Table outlets.

The news comes less than a month after the business was forced to remove thousands of burgers from some of its menus​after a supplier embroiled in the horsemeat scandal couldn't guarantee its quality.

A statement released by Whitbread today reads: “At Whitbread we take the quality and standards of our food extremely seriously and although we have continued to receive assurances from our suppliers about the meat content of our products, in line with the Food Standards Agency guidance we have carried out independent tests on meat products. 

“We sent 30 products to be tested and received the results of these tests yesterday afternoon (14 Feb). Two of these products tested positively for equine DNA and we immediately removed them from our menus.  The two affected products were a meat lasagne and a beef burger.  

'Shocked and dissapointed'

“They will not be replaced until further testing has been undertaken and we are fully reassured of the integrity of our products.”

The ABP Food Group closed its Silvercrest Foods plant in Ireland​after horse DNA was found in its frozen burgers. As a result, Whitbread binned all Silvercrest products and changed suppliers for all of its affected brands.

“We are shocked and disappointed at this failure of the processed meat supply chain,” the statement adds. “As an industry it is clear we need the supply chain to deliver products to the highest standards of food integrity and quality that we and our customers expect.

“As a responsible business we shall work with the Food Standards Agency (FSA) to implement a robust testing regime to avoid this happening in the future.”

Avoiding the fallout

Restaurants, hotels and pubs are being urged to ‘know their suppliers’ for all meat products

The FSA is set to publish further details of the testing it requested from suppliers and operators later today, and food safety experts from across Europe are meeting to address the latest issues surrounding horsemeat mislabelling.

Just yesterday, BigHospitality reported that restaurant, hotel and pub owners are being urged to take extra steps​to know the provenance of the produce they are using to avoid being embroiled in future scandals.

Paul Huck, director of forensic and litigation support services for advisory and restructuring specialist Zolfo Cooper, said: “Businesses need to ensure they are doing all in their power to prevent such situations. The golden rule is: know your suppliers.

“As everyday commerce moves from local to international suppliers, advanced due diligence before you start working with anyone is a must.”

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