Horsemeat Found In Schools, Pubs And Hotels

Lancashire County Council has confirmed that horsemeat has been found in cottage pies served at 47 schools.

The council said it has withdrawn the products from all of the schools’ kitchens but refuses to say which schools served the contaminated meat.

Lancashire County Councillor Susie Charles said: “Relatively few schools in Lancashire use this particular product but our priority is to provide absolute assurance that 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 and it is a credit to our officers that we have been able to quickly identify the problem and take the product off the menus.”

It has also been revealed that catering company Compass and Whitbread, one of the UK’s largest hospitality companies, detected horse DNA in their products.

Contaminated beef lasagne and burgers were sold at Whitbread companies Premier Inn, Brewers Fayre, Beefeater Grill and Table Table.

The firm said the products had been removed from their menus and will not be replaced until further testing has been carried out.

And Compass, which operates across the UK and Ireland, said that sites where it operates had been supplied with burgers from Rangeland – an Irish processor found to have had two consignments of meat with horse DNA.

“This is totally unacceptable. We have informed all of the affected sites of these developments, explained the actions we have taken and issued unreserved apologies,” the company said.

Compass said 13 sites in the Republic and 27 in Northern Ireland, including two secondary schools, were supplied with burgers from Rangeland, the 4oz Rangeburgers which have been found to contain 5-30% horse DNA.

The company has catering operations at 7,000 sites and that most of the sites using Rangeland product were offices.

None of the sites where food was withdrawn were hospitals or sporting venues, Compass confirmed.

Compass said it had withdrawn Rangeland produce on February 5 which included 180 cases of suspect burgers.

Officials have also said that burgers containing horsemeat had been supplied to hospitals in Northern Ireland.

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which provides meat for the health trusts, said a range from a company in the Republic of Ireland had been withdrawn.

Meanwhile, pub and hotel group Whitbread said they had sent 30 products to be tested and the company received the results on Thursday afternoon.

A spokesman said: “We are shocked and disappointed at this failure of the processed meat supply chain.

“As an industry it is clear we need the supply chain to deliver products to the highest standards of food integrity and quality that we and our customers expect.

“As a responsible business we shall work with the FSA to implement a robust testing regime to avoid this happening in the future. We would like to sincerely apologise to our customers for any concerns or inconvenience that this may cause.”

The news comes as the Food Standards Agency (FSA) published the results of tests on all supermarket beef products, revealing that 29 of the 2,501 samples contained horsemeat.

There are around 900 more test results to be released, with the next batch to be revealed next Friday.

The agency’s chief scientist, Andrew Wadge, told Sky News that he was reassured by the results so far, but retailers need to take responsibility.

“If you’re in the business of selling food, you have to make sure you’re clear to consumers that what you sell is what it says on label,” he said.

Following the release of the FSA results, Environment Secretary Owen Paterson said the food industry has a lot of work to do in the wake of the scandal.

“It’s wholly unacceptable that if people buy products marked beef, they turn out to be horsemeat,” he said.

“That’s why it was so important to undertake this intensive testing activity to gain a meaningful picture.

“My concern is for consumers. The news for them today is that the vast majority of products tested are completely clear of horse DNA.

“Food businesses now have a lot of work to do. They need to move quickly to complete these tests and they need to show their customers they’ve taken the right steps to make sure this doesn’t happen again.”