Feb 15, 2013 No Comments ›› Pat Dollard
Excerpted from The Guardian: The horsemeat scandal has spread to schools and hospitals, with authorities struggling to keep pace with the scale of the crisis.
Cottage pies destined for 47 schools across Lancashire have been withdrawn after testing positive for horsemeat on Thursday, and in Northern Ireland a range of burgers bound for hospitals were withdrawn after officials confirmed they contained equine DNA.
It is not known how many pupils may have already eaten the cottage pies or how long the product has been available in schools in Lancashire.
Lancashire county councillor Susie Charles 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 that 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 that meals contain what the label says – having discovered this one doesn’t, we have no hesitation in removing it from menus.”
David Bingham of the health service’s business services organisation in Northern Ireland, which provides meat for health trusts, said a range from a company in Ireland had tested positive for traces of horsemeat. “We have acted immediately. As soon as we got information there may be a confidence issue we withdrew the product,” he said.
Northern Ireland’s agriculture minister, Michelle O’Neill, has called a meeting on the crisis, with other executive ministers due to attend.
The Food Standards Agency is due to publish the results of UK-wide tests for the presence of horsemeat in processed meals. The UK government said retailers selling affected products had questions to answer about; what inquiries they had made about their suppliers and how similar problems could be avoided in the future.
In a public letter issued on Friday, 11 of the UK’s major food suppliers, including Tesco, Sainsbury’s and Asda, said they shared shoppers’ “anger and outrage” at the scandal. “We will do whatever it takes to restore public confidence in the food they buy and eat,” they said.
Staffordshire council said it had taken beef off school menus as a precaution.