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Standing behind Irish tests

By Sean Lehane

The Food Safety Authority of Ireland has said it is confident in its meat testing after a supermarket chain appeared to cast doubt on the reliability of the FSAI's results.

The British chief executive of the chain, Iceland, caused uproar when he seemingly dismissed the Irish testing.

"Well, that's the Irish, isn't it?" Malcolm Walker in a BBC interview. Walker later apologized

"Iceland and our chief executive, Malcolm Walker, are deeply sorry for any offence caused by his TV interview last night. His comments were not intended to be disrespectful to the Irish people, including our many Irish customers, colleagues and suppliers, or to the Irish food safety authorities. We hold all of these in the very highest regard," said a company statement.

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The Irish authority had found horse DNA in Iceland burgers, but the chain subsequently passed checks in Britain.

Professor Alan Reilly of the FSAI dismissed Iceland's claims that the tests were carried out in unaccredited labs.

He said the Iceland claim was totally unprofessional and said the authority based all risk management decisions on the best science available.

"When we set out with our small survey back in November of last year, we had no idea where we were going with this, but we certainly have uncovered a fraud here of massive scale," he said.

Professor Reilly was speaking as the horse meat scandal threatened to engulf more countries. When the scandal first came to light last month, fingers were initially pointed at Ireland and Romania. Now, however, the controversy over mislabeled beef products has spread to at least 12 European countries.