Iceland says burgers withdrawn after discovery of horse DNA will be used to generate energy
At least 10,000 of the frozen burgers withdrawn from sale by a leading UK supermarket following the discovery of meat contaminated with horse DNA are to be processed down to their core components, with the fats removed and sold on for energy generation.
Iceland said waste animal tissue would be converted into fuel through the “rendering” process while Sainsbury’s said it would sell the meat to generate energy through anaerobic digestion plants.
Seven major British supermarkets are withdrawing a number of their beef products after horse and pig DNA was found in burgers and ready meals sold by four groups in the UK and Ireland. Aldi, Iceland, Lidl and Tesco were selling products which tested positive for equine DNA.
ABP Food Group, which owns the implicated meat suppliers Silvercrest and Dalepak Hambleton, said it was likely that up to 10m burgers would be recalled following the scandal after horsemeat was found in burgers, leaving supermarkets and their suppliers with a dilemma about what to do with the meat mountain.
Iceland said it had so far collected 2,126 units of the two burger lines it withdrew after the Food Safety Authority of Ireland (FSAI) report identified the rogue DNA.
The meat will either have steam or boiling water added to it to ensure fat rises to the surface, or it will be dehydrated to release any useful organic materials – the useful parts will be used in the energy sector.
Although not implicated in the FSAI report, Sainsbury’s has withdrawn one line from sale.
Sainsbury’s said the retailer could not reveal the volume or the value of the products withdrawn “due to commercial sensitivities”, but added that none of its food waste goes to landfill.
“The products withdrawn from stores will be sent to anaerobic digestion plants,” the spokeswoman said. “This is the most efficient method of generating energy from waste, and part of our broader ‘zero food waste to landfill’ strategy. We are the UK’s largest retail user of anaerobic digestion.”
An Aldi spokeswoman said its withdrawn products had not been pulped or destroyed yet. “They are still being tested, a process that takes a lot longer than 24 hours,” she said.
She would not comment on whether that meant products that were cleared would go back on the shelves.
Tesco said it would take advice from the Food Standards Agency over how to dispose of the frozen burger products it withdrew from sale following the revelations.
Tesco said: “The products have been isolated from sale and are in frozen storage pending investigation.” But he confirmed that “the products will not re-enter the food chain”.