Education bosses’ horse meat re-assurances over school meals

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EDUCATION bosses in Doncaster, the Dearne and North Lincolnshire have moved to re-assure the public over school meals in the light of the controversy over horse meat being found in beef meals.

They have issued statements after it emerged cottage pie which tested positive for horse DNA was sent to 47 Lancashire schools.

The Food Standards Agency said 2,501 tests have been carried out on beef products, with 29 results positive for undeclared horse meat at or above one per cent. The 29 results related to seven different products, which have already been reported and withdrawn from sale.

Doncaster Council director of regeneration and environment, Peter Dale said beef would still be served in the borough’s schools.

He said: “Every day, our professionally qualified catering teams provide around 16,000 healthy, tasty and affordable meals in 120 schools throughout Doncaster.

“Over the years we have carefully built up a well sourced and checked supply chain that focuses on fresh local ingredients that come from reputable suppliers.

“High quality and traceability is key, which is why we use Doncaster pork, British chicken, Yorkshire beef, Yorkshire free range eggs and Yorkshire fresh milk. We even have the sausages made to our own recipe using Doncaster pork.

“Our meals are almost exclusively cooked on site using raw produce and are certainly not the mass produced highly processed meals that are in the news at the moment.

“We don’t currently serve beef burgers, but if we did, the beef would be traceable and from Yorkshire, as is the case with much of our current supplies.”

North Lincolnshire Council, which works with schools in the Isle of Axholme, said it had carried out checks on its meat and was continuing to be vigilant.

A spokesman said: “Following the recent horse meat contamination scare the Food Standards Agency has asked 28 local authorities across the country to carry out additional checks of food manufacturers. North Lincolnshire Council was not one of these involved. However, the council’s Trading Standards and Environmental Health departments are currently working with local manufacturers and suppliers to ensure no further contamination has occurred.

“All meat products that are used by the council’s school meals service carry the red tractor, quality beef and pork mark. Currently the FSA is advising these are not affected by the recent food scare.

“We have also been liaising with Meals on Wheels to ensure additional checks of their suppliers have taken place.”

Rotherham Council’s Education Catering Services, which provide meat to schools in part of the Dearne, said their meat was clear of horse DNA.

A spokesman said: “We have had confirmation from our fresh meat supplier that the meat we purchase does not contain horse meat. We have received a similar assurance that the meats supplied by our frozen food company are not contaminated with horse meat.

“Education Catering Services does not use pre-prepared meals as our meals are freshly made in our schools every day.”

Barnsley Council, which also works with some of the Dearne schools said it could confirm it was currently carrying out checks relating to the meat supplies of the providers for its school meals service.

A spokesman said: “Some of the borough’s schools use their own independent school meals providers; aside from those, there are 62 schools in Barnsley which use the council’s schools meals service.”