Horse DNA found in South Yorkshire made beefburgers

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BEEFBURGERS made by a South Yorkshire firm and supplied to a chain of hotels have been found to contain horse meat.

Food manufacturing company Paragon Quality Foods Ltd, based in Armthorpe, Doncaster, says tests have revealed one of the types of beefburgers it has supplied to hotels run by Whitbread have been found to contain horse DNA.

The company, based at West Moor Park, says it is now carrying out extensive tests - and stressed it has only ever bought meat from reputable suppliers.

In a statement, the firm said yesterday: “Paragon supplies Whitbread with three beefburgers, and we are advised that equine test results were clear for two of these products and positive for one.

“The product in question was first produced by us on January 18, 2013.

“We are conducting our own tests on the retained sample of this batch as part of our ongoing investigations.

“Paragon have never knowingly bought or handled equine meat products. All our records are available for scrutiny to our customers and FSA officials.”

The statement added: “Paragon Quality Foods Ltd buys beef only from licensed and approved EU suppliers.

“Since the outbreak of the ‘horse meat scandal’ in the European supply chain, we have carried out extensive testing for equine in our burgers, all of which were clear.

“Independently a number of our customers in the UK and Europe, have also tested our products and to date all results were clear.”

The company describes itself as one of the largest suppliers of burgers and kebabs to the food service and fast food sectors in the UK.

Its website says its products are made in a purpose-built production facility, under stringent hygiene conditions, by committed and experienced staff who are trained regularly in both food hygiene and food manufacture.

Its ‘state-of-the-art’ automated factory is described as one of the most modern and technologically equipped in Europe, and was opened officially by Prince Andrew.

A spokesman for Whitbread said the firm takes the quality and standards of its food extremely seriously and, although it had continued to receive assurances from its suppliers about the meat content of its products, it carried out its own independent tests on meat products.

The spokesman said: “We sent 30 products to be tested. Two - a meat lasagne and a beef burger - tested positively for equine DNA and we removed them immediately from our menus.”

Meanwhile, bosses at Doncaster Council say they have no plans to take any beef dishes off their menus, and beef will still be served in the borough’s schools.

Doncaster Council director of regeneration, Peter Dale, 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.

“We use Doncaster pork, Yorkshire beef, British chicken, 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 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.”