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Horsemeat served in schools

Some hospitals have been serving burgers which contain horsemeat passed off as beef

Gulf News


Horsemeat has been served to children in school meal cottage pies, it emerged yesterday.

It was also revealed that some hospitals have been serving patients burgers which contain horse passed off as beef.

And the Whitbread chain announced that burgers and lasagne served at its Beefeater, Brewers Fayre, Table Table, Taybarns and Premier Inn hotels were contaminated.

The spread of the food fraud scandal from supermarkets into the catering sector suggests the full scale of the contamination is still to emerge.

Yesterday, Lancashire County Council said that it has withdrawn pre-prepared cottage pies from 47 school kitchens.

It is understood the supplier involved, Oak Farm Foods in Ireland, has been supplying the ready meals for at least the past six months. There are also suggestions that the pies and other products made by Oak Farm have been supplied to schools and other outlets across the UK and Ireland.

Mary Creagh, Labour’s environment spokesman, said: “People will be shocked and dismayed that horsemeat has now been found in schools and hospitals.

“David Cameron should order the FSA to speed up its testing so that we have a full picture of just how far this has spread in our communities.”

A Department for Education spokesman said, while there is no food safety risk, the discovery “represents a serious and unacceptable breach of trust”.

She added: “Suppliers and caterers should be urgently reassuring schools and parents about the action they are taking.”

Other local authorities from Staffordshire to Sheffield have removed processed beef from school meals as a precaution.

It was also revealed that burgers containing horsemeat have been supplied to hospitals in Northern Ireland.

David Bingham, of the health service’s Business Services Organisation, which provides meat to health trusts, said a range from a company in the Republic of Ireland had been withdrawn.

A Whitbread spokesman said the chain was “shocked and disappointed” to learn of the horsemeat contamination.

They said the chain had tested 30 products and found horse DNA in two, a meat lasagne and a beef burger.

They said they “will not be replaced until further testing has been undertaken and we are fully reassured of [their] integrity”.

The Food Standards Agency yesterday released the results of the first tranche of beef products tested for horse contamination, which revealed no cases beyond the seven already identified.

Environment Secretary Owen Paterson welcomed the news, adding: “It’s wholly unacceptable that if people buy products marked beef, they turn out to be horsemeat.”

Oak Farm Foods was not available for comment last night.