LONDON Burger King, one of the most popular fast-food chains in Britain, said on Thursday it had stopped using one of the firms caught up in the scandal of supplying grocers with beef that contained horse meat.
The British food industry has been rocked by the revelation last week that retailers including market leader Tesco (TSCO.L) and smaller chains Aldi ALDIEI.UL, Lidl LIDUK.UL and Iceland ICFDG.UL had sold beef products that contained horse meat.
Food safety experts say horse meat poses no added health risks to consumers, but the discovery has raised concerns about the food supply chain and the ability to trace meat ingredients.
On its website, Burger King said it had decided to replace all Silvercrest products in Britain and Ireland with products from another approved Burger King supplier.
"This is a voluntary and precautionary measure," Burger King BKW.N, famed for its flame-grilled burgers, said. "We are working diligently to identify suppliers that can produce 100 percent pure Irish and British beef products that meet our high quality standards."
The beef burger products from the grocers, which were revealed last week to have tested positive for horse DNA, were produced by Liffey Meats and Silvercrest Foods in Ireland and Dalepak Hambleton in Britain.
Tesco, Britain's biggest retailer, immediately withdrew from sale all products from its supplier, Silvercrest, which is owned by ABP Food Group, saying it was working with authorities and the supplier to urgently understand how horse meat came to be in the product.
ABP Foods said at the time that the source of the contamination was a beef based product bought from two third-party suppliers outside of Ireland.
The discovery of horse meat could be both embarrassing and damaging for the retailers involved. The mass-selling Sun newspaper carried the Burger King announcement on its front page on Thursday with the headline "Shergar King", in reference to a famous racehorse that was kidnapped and never seen again.
(Reporting by Kate Holton, additional reporting by Stephen Mangan in Dublin; Editing by Mike Nesbit)