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10m burgers recalled in Ireland, UK

A closed horsemeat butcher shop in Paris.

Charles Platiau/Reuters

A closed horsemeat butcher shop in Paris.

DUBLIN — An Irish meat processor recalled 10 million burgers Wednesday from ­supermarkets across Ireland and Britain amid fears that many could contain horsemeat, a discovery that poses no danger to public health but threatens to undermine the beef business central to Ireland’s rural economy.

Silvercrest Foods, Ireland’s second-largest processor of beef burgers, took the action after the Food Safety Authority of Ireland revealed that DNA tests of patties on sale found tiny traces of horsemeat in more than a third. Experts said the finding was not surprising, given that meat refrigeration units and slaughterhouses would handle multiple kinds of meat and molecular transfers were inevitable. But investigators were surprised to find that one burger among 27 tested contained 29 percent horsemeat. Tesco, the British supermarket giant that sold the discount burger brand in question, apologized and said either fraud or incompetence was to blame.

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Silvercrest and government leaders said suspicion was focusing on a powdered beef-protein additive imported from both Spain and the Netherlands. They declined to identify either supplier by name because investigations were continuing.

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