Firm line with suppliers over horsemeat scandal

Susie Charles
Susie Charles
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HEADTEACHERS at Fylde coast schools today distanced themselves from concerns horsemeat could have been served to pupils.

It came after Lancashire County Council withdrew a pre-prepared batch of cottage pie from 47 school kitchens after it tested positive for traces of horse DNA.

County Hall governs education in Fylde and Wyre. Bosses have refused to name the schools involved.

Schools in Blackpool have not been affected.

County Hall chiefs made the decision to remove the product after testing requested by the Food Standards Agency (FSA).

Lancashire’s scientific service was one of seven laboratories accredited to examine food by FSA officials, where it was revealed horsemeat DNA was in the meal.

County Coun Susie Charles, cabinet member for children and schools, said: “We share the concerns people have about what is clearly a major problem in food supplies across the UK and Europe.

“Because of those concerns we decided to seek extra assurance our external suppliers were not providing any products containing horsemeat DNA, and one of the products has returned a positive result.

“Relatively few schools in Lancashire use this particular product but our priority is to provide absolute assurance meals contain what the label says. Having discovered this one doesn’t, we have no hesitation in removing it from menus.

“This does not appear to be a food safety issue but I’ve no doubt parents will agree we need to take a very firm line with suppliers.”

Ela Wort, headteacher at St William’s Catholic Primary School, Pilling, said: “Our school is completely unaffected.

“As headteachers we’ve received information keeping us up to date and I’m perfectly satisfied there’s no trace in our food stuff – I can categorically say it’s not at St Williams.”

Preesall Fleetwood’s Charity C of E Primary School headteacher John Belshire added: “Anything that falls short of food quality standards is a concern but we haven’t been notified that we’ve been affected.”

Elizabeth Kelly, headteacher at St Peter’s Catholic Primary School, Lytham, added: “All our meals are freshly prepared on the premises.”

The horsemeat scandal has affected products across the country.

Coun Simon Blackburn, leader of Blackpool Council, added: “Our schools catering team buys all meat from a Blackpool company and we have a traceability agreement in place which basically means we know exactly which slaughterhouse and farm the meat has come from, even down to the individual animal in the field.

“As a council we don’t use ready meals in our schools, it’s much healthier to have meat freshly cooked on the school site along with other fresh produce.”

Lancashire County Council is refusing to name the schools involved, do you think their stance is correct or do parents have a right to know? Leave your comments below.