26-02-2013 11:21 AM | Cattle, News

Horse meat found in Lancashire school meals



Schools in the Lancashire area have had their frozen beef supply suspended after the county council carried out tests which revealed traces of horsemeat in two products.

The council, which is working on a national level with the Food Standards Agency, chose to carry out tests for traces of horsemeat in all the products supplied to schools in the area after labelling concerns were raised.

A pre-prepared cottage pie used in 10% of primary schools in Lancashire and a halal beef burger which was available in four schools in the county tested positive for traces of horsemeat.

All affected schools have been contacted and informed.

Frozen processed beef products make up a small proportion of the school menu as most meals are prepared using beef from local suppliers.

"I hope that parents and children can be reassured by the advice that this isn’t a food safety issue, however it is frankly appalling that we have found horsemeat in two products which were supposedly 100 percent beef" said Geoff Driver, leader of the Lancashire County Council.

"These products came from manufacturers who not only carry all the correct certification but who also recently provided us with written assurances their products did not contain horsemeat.

"Few if any local councils across the country have been as proactive as we have in testing their school meals and unfortunately the results show we were right to act on the concerns raised by what has become an international scandal.

"Under the circumstances, with children returning from their half term break today, we feel we have no choice but to withdraw all frozen processed beef products as a precaution until the food industry and regulators do something to restore confidence in what people are being fed."

Changes to the county council's school meals menu will take place with immediate effect from today, Monday 25 February, when most schools are returning from holiday.

All frozen products that contain processed beef will be taken off the menu.

The county council has undertaken a variety of tests for horse DNA in meat products at its Preston laboratory, reporting the results to the Food Standards Agency.

The affected schools have been made aware of the test results and, as a precaution, the council has also suspended a halal lamb burger, manufactured on the same premises as the beefburger, from its menu.

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