Documents and computer records were seized from the Thomastown headquarters of Kilkenny company B&F Meats at the weekend, as the local business remains firmly under the spotlight in the international horsemeat scandal.
Operations have been suspended at the company’s Carrick-on-Suir facility since Friday, when it emerged that the plant, which debones beef and horsemeat, was dispatching horsemeat to the Czech Republic using a label in the Czech language which translates as ‘beef’. The Department of Agriculture’s Special Investigation Unit carried out a forensic examination with assistance from Gardai – and this has now been extended to the Thomastown offices.
This is the first time in the month-long crisis that blame for mislabelling has been pinpointed to a single slaughter facility. When the news broke on Friday, B&F Meats made international headlines, including the Washington Post and Fox News in the US.
Minister for Agriculture Simon Coveney has expressed grave concerns.
“I am seriously concerned about this development and the Gardai have been fully appraised of this development and are working closely with my Department,” he said.
“The issue here is one of mislabelling and that will be the focus of the investigation.”
The ICMSA says that those guilty of mislabelling are guilty of ‘economic sabotage’. ICMSA President John Comer said that farmers and consumers had a right to expect the full weight of sanctions and penalties would be brought to bear against anyone who had deliberately engaged in fraudulent mislabelling.
“Those responsible will have to face the most severe sanctions – and they full deserve it,” he said.
B&F Meats is run by directors Ted Farrell and John Barron. The company has not issued a statement.