Investigators looking into the ongoing horsemeat in beef products scandal believe they may have traced the cause of the problem to a short-sighted farmer in Tipperary who was found to have a significant percentage of horses in his herd of ‘cows’.
David O’Neill, 72, was shocked when it was pointed out to him that over half of the animals that he was milking and subsequently selling as beef were actually horses. He insisted that he has never had a problem before but admitted that he did have his suspicions that something was not quite right.
‘I’ve had this farm for over forty years and all of my cows have always been cows before now,’ said O’Neill. ‘My eyesight isn’t quite what it was when I was younger, though, and I suppose I could have mistaken a few dozen here and there. It would certainly explain why some of the ones I’ve had lately have been more distressed than usual when it comes to milking time.’
O’Neill is blaming the mix-up on ‘unscrupulous dealers taking advantage of the elderly’ and has urged all other farmers in the Tipperary region to check their stocks carefully. After a thorough investigation, his own dairy herd was found to comprise 66 horses, 41 cows, two donkeys, a St Bernard and a solid oak table.
‘Through cataracts everything is kind of blurry so you’re working on trust quite a lot I suppose. I’ve dealt with the same guys for years so as long as I could make out that what I was buying had four legs and was about the right size I thought everything was OK and I never expected them to con me like this. That one cow was always a bugger to get in for milking, it actually being a table explains a lot.’
In light of the investigators’ findings, an urgent product recall has now been issued on all Tesco value burgers, 25,000 packs of Findus lasagne and over 100 gallons of ‘milk’.