(Corrects Frigilunch NV to Belgian from Dutch; Queally brothers hold Dawn Meats shares, not own company)
* Birds Eye says Irish supplier supplied horse DNA meat
* Irish supplier part of large Irish food business
By Stephen Mangan
DUBLIN, March 5 (Reuters) - Frozen food maker Birds Eye said horse meat DNA found in two of its products came from an Irish meat processor that is part of one of Ireland’s largest agricultural businesses.
Birds Eye was drawn into the scandal last month when a chilli con carne sold in Belgium was pulled off retail shelves after testing positive for horse DNA. That also prompted the withdrawal of its spaghetti bolognese and beef lasagne products.
The company said investigations had found its Belgian supplier Frigilunch NV had unknowingly sourced meat with horse DNA from Irish meat processor QK Meats.
“Our investigation has shown that Frigilunch NV (who supplied these products to us) was itself supplied meat with horse in it by an Irish meat processor QK Meats,” Birds Eye said in a statement on Tuesday.
“In total we have tested 250 products across Europe and confirmed three products as containing horsemeat,” Birds Eye said.
The horsemeat scandal erupted in Ireland after its food safety authority discovered horse DNA in frozen beef burgers and the Birds Eye investigation brings more unwanted attention on the country’s reeling beef industry.
“All other meat suppliers to Frigilunch NV have been given the all clear through both Birds Eye’s and Frigilunch NV’s separate testing programmes,” the statement said.
Private equity group Permira owns the Iglo Group whose frozen food brands include Birds Eye in Britain, Iglo, which trades across much of continental Europe, and Findus in Italy.
Birds Eye said tests showed its beef burgers, beef pies and beef platters sold in Britain and Ireland did not contain horse DNA.
QK Meats parent firm is the Arrow Group, which is privately owned by Irish businessmen the Queally brothers who own shares in one of Europe’s largest food processors, Dawn Meats.
In response, QK Meats said it never knowingly incorporated horse meat into any of its beef products and is investigating the contamination. (Reporting by Stephen Mangan; Editing by Jon Hemming)