|The short local supply chain for beefburgers made at Scotbeef is the model others now want to follow. Photograph: John Domokos|
Horsemeat scandal: timeline
Ten key moments of revelation in the investigation
The Food Safety Authority of Ireland reveals the results of a targeted study that has found undeclared horse DNA in frozen beefburgers on sale in Tesco, Iceland, Aldi and Lidl. The Tesco beefburgers, tested as 29% horse, were supplied by ABP Silvercrest in County Monaghan. The other factories implicated at low or trace levels are a second ABP factory, Dalepak in Yorkshire, and Liffey Meats in County Cavan.
2. 15 January
ABP, one of the largest beef processors in Europe, owned by Larry Goodman, emerges as being at the centre of the horsemeat scandal. Its Silvercrest subsidiary in Monaghan, near the border between Northern Ireland and the republic, supplied the 29% horse burger to Tesco. Its Dalepak plant in Yorkshire, named initially for trace contamination of Iceland burgers, is subsequently named as the source of frozen beef mince in Asda that tested as 29% positive for horse. ABP points the finger at continental suppliers, including imports from Poland. Goodman's Scottish factory is later found to have supplied beef meatballs to Waitrose that were found to be up to 30% undeclared pork. And his ABP factory in Nenagh, Tipperary, supplied another processor, Greencore, with meat for Asda fresh bolognese that Asda tests found was 5% horse. ABP has blamed rogue managers at Silvercrest for straying out of customers' specification. It says it has never knowingly sold horse and is an innocent victim of fraud.
3. 31 January
More Irish companies are drawn in. County Monaghan-based processor Rangeland Meats tells the Irish department of agriculture it has found horse DNA at levels of 75% in meat labelled as frozen beef trimmings of Polish origin. Rangeland says the meat has not been used and was supplied to Rangeland by McAdam Foods, which had bought it from a UK-based trader. The Irish authorities concluded the company had not knowingly imported horse and the mislabelling did not take place in Ireland. Rangeland was allowed to resume production a week later.
4. 5 February
Kildare firm QK Meats tells the Irish DoA it has found horse in repeated tests on some of its stocks in QK cold stores in Naas, going back as far as 27 June 2012. It says these were imported from 19 different Polish suppliers. Birds Eye names QK as source of adulteration of its beef ready meals. QK is controlled by the Queally family, who are also directors of another Irish beef processor, Dawn Fresh Foods. The latter's UK operation is found to have supplied horse in pies to Lancashire schools. Dawn received its meat from QK. QK says it never knowingly incorporated horse into its beef products. It says it is co-operating fully with the government investigation and, while it acknowledges it should have alerted the department earlier and apologises, it says it has not broken any laws.
5. Also 5 February
UK traders are named. Freeza Meats, a Northern Ireland meat processor and trader based on the Greenbank Industrial estate in Newry, is found to have a consignment of meat that tests as 80% horse in its cold store. It supplies burgers to Asda supermarkets. However, it says it has not processed the horsemeat, which is just being stored at its premises as a goodwill gesture for an Irish supplier to ABP, Martin McAdam. McAdam, who also supplied Rangeland Meats, says he was sent the meat stored in Newry by another UK-based trader, FlexiFoods in Hull. FlexiFoods in turn is linked to supplies from Dino's, a Cypriot trader in north London. The UK Food Standards Agency raids FlexiFoods and Dino's. Both say they are co-operating with the investigation.
Another UK-based meat trader, Norwest in Knutsford, Cheshire, is drawn into FSA inquiries but no further details are made available. ABP says Norwest is one of its suppliers. Norwest says it never knowingly imported horsemeat.
6. 6 February
Up until this point, all the beef products adulterated with horse have been bottom-of-the-range frozen products. But then Asda reports that its fresh beef bolognese sauce has tested as 5% horse. It names Greencore, an Irish-headquartered processor with UK operations, headed by Patrick Coveney, brother of the Irish agriculture minister, Simon Coveney. Greencore in turn names ABP as its fresh meat supplier. Both Greencore and ABP later repudiate any finding of adulteration with horse in the bolognese. Greencore says Asda's tests are a "mistake". Asda stands by its test findings and product withdrawal.
7. 12 March
Another Northern Ireland company, Eurostock, is named as having supplied horse. It has supplied Tesco from its Craigavon site in County Down with meatloaf that tests find is up to 5% horse. Eurostock has fought previous legal battles with the Northern Ireland Department of Agriculture, and then the Food Standards Agency, which tried to stop it processing beef heads under rules about BSE risk material. Eurostock took the agency to judicial review, arguing that since the heads were imported from Ireland, UK BSE rules did not apply. The long-running case was settled in a confidential agreement. Eurostock says it is shocked at finding horse in its supply chain. It welcomes the official investigations.
8. 14 March
The Irish government reports on its investigation. It is critical of some of the companies involved, including Silvercrest and QK, but concludes that tests and audits on other players have found either that there was no further adulteration or that they did not know what they were being supplied with. It says there is therefore no need for further investigation of Liffey Foods, Greencore, the ABP factory in Tipperary that supplied Greencore, Rangeland and Dawn Fresh Foods. While condemning management failures at Silvercrest as "inexcusable", it says further investigation of Silvercrest is now with other jurisdictions. Investigations into QK and one other company – a horse slaughterer caught mislabelling horse with labels in Czech which translated as "beef" – continue.
9. 18 April
ABP sells its Silvercrest plant and tries to draw a line under its part in the scandal. It has still not explained how its Dalepak plant supplied frozen beef mince to Asda that was 29% horse, but says it will no longer make frozen beefburgers.
10. 23 April
Professor Alan Reilly, head of the FSA Ireland, is challenged by members of the environment food and rural affairs committee in the UK parliament as to whether he and his Irish colleagues know more than they have admitted and are, together with Irish agriculture minister Simon Coveney, protecting the Irish beef industry. He insists they have been transparent all along and that the accusations are unfounded.
Horsemeat scandal: fear that culprits will not face justice
Concern in UK at Irish inquiry as Europe-wide investigation stalls
Almost four months after the widespread adulteration of beef products with horsemeat was revealed by the Food Safety Authority of Ireland, there are growing fears in the UK that the investigation to identify the full extent of the fraud is being shut down, the Guardian has learned.
Senior sources in enforcement and the food industry have accused the Irish authorities of being more concerned to protect the Irish beef industry than to expose all the links in the chain.
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