Food in Worcestershire schools tested for horse meat

Worcester News: A scientist tests food for traces of horse meat at Worcestershire County Council's Scientific Services lab in Worcester A scientist tests food for traces of horse meat at Worcestershire County Council's Scientific Services lab in Worcester

IT has been confirmed that Worcestershire County Council is testing school meals for the presence of horse meat.

The news comes after cottage pie tested positive for horse meat was delivered to schools in Lancashire.

The product has since been withdrawn from 47 school kitchens.

The testing is being carried out by Worcestershire County Council's Scientific Services at a lab in Wainwright Road, Warndon, Worcester and the results will be confirmed next week.

A spokesman said they were doing this as a precautionary measure.

They said: "I can confirm we are testing samples from school meals in Worcestershire.

"We are doing it proactively - we have got the ability to test through our Scientific Services and so we are testing."

In a previous statement released by the local authority, director of children's services, Gail Quinton, said each school is responsible for its own catering arrangements.

She said: "We have been advising schools in Worcestershire to contact their catering companies directly in relation to concerns over horsemeat."

Although schools are responsible for their catering contracts, all food provided must comply with recognised health and safety, and food safety standards.

According to the county council, the majority of meat used in school lunches is not processed meat, which is causing concerns, but whole meat.

The Food Standards Agency (FSA) has released new details of its latest tests into horse meat in processed meals.

The body will report on the UK products after asking retailers and suppliers to provide "meaningful results" from tests to detect the presence of horse meat.

Pub and hotel group Whitbread became the latest company to admit horse DNA had been found in its food, saying their meat lasagnes and beefburgers had been affected.

The firm, which owns Premier Inn, Beefeater Grill and Brewers Fayre, said the products had been removed from their menus and will not be replaced until further testing has been carried out.

Meanwhile, burgers containing horse meat had been supplied to hospitals in Northern Ireland, with David Bingham from the health service's Business Services Organisation, saying a range from a company in the Republic of Ireland had been withdrawn.

Northern Ireland's agriculture minister Michelle O'Neill has called a special meeting on the horse meat crisis.

Ahead of the FSA test results announcement, several major retailers said test results on processed meals have proven negative for horse meat.

Tesco, Sainsbury's, Morrisons, Iceland, Marks and Spencer and the Co-op said no horse meat was found in their products.

Asda withdrew its 500g beef bolognese sauce from shelves on Thursday after tests revealed the presence of horse DNA.

The company apologised to customers and said it was taking a "belt-and-braces approach" by removing a further three beef products made by the same supplier, the Greencore plant in Bristol, as a precaution.

The results were being released as police in Wales questioned three men arrested on suspicion of offences under the Fraud Act.

The trio were taken into custody from two plants inspected and temporarily shut down by the FSA on Tuesday.

Sources said Dafydd Raw-Rees, 64, owner of Farmbox Meats near Aberystwyth, was arrested along with a 42-year-old man.

A 63-year-old man was also arrested on suspicion of the same offence at Peter Boddy Slaughterhouse in Todmorden, West Yorkshire.

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