Preston is at the centre of an investigation by the Food Standards Agency into the horsemeat scandal.
Lancashire County Council’s Public Analyst’s Laboratory, on Riversway, Docklands, Preston, is one of seven in the country accredited to carry out DNA tests on meat on behalf of hundreds of concerned businesses.
Trading Standards officers have also been out sampling beef products to help with the nationwide investigation by the Food Standards Agency.
County Coun Albert Atkinson, deputy leader of Lancashire County Council, said: “We have a big part to play in the current investigation with our officers being engaged on two fronts - Trading Standards are visiting businesses to take samples and carry out inspections at meat suppliers to ensure products can be traced to their source. At the same time our Public Analysts laboratory is very busy.”
Analysts at the lab have ordered dozens of extra testing kits and are working at weekends to meet the demand from businesses keen to check their own products after horse DNA was discovered in beefburgers, readymade lasagne and spaghetti bolognese.
Tests for Lancashire-based businesses are being prioritised, though samples have been sent from as far afield as Gibraltar.
Andrew Smith, Lancashire County Council’s public analyst, said: “We’ve had to take swift action to be able to cope with the amount of testing that we’re being asked to do, but I’m pleased to say that the team has responded fantastically.
“It’s a great opportunity to be able to let people know about our service, which works with environmental health and trading standards teams from across the north west, ensuring that goods are safe and don’t contain bogus or dangerous substances.
“Essentially, all retailers have been asked to have their meat tested within a week which is a huge undertaking. We have ordered further testing kits so we can cope with the demand.”