Parents of youngsters at Lancashire’s schools are being urged to boycott food dished up by the county’s school meals service.
The plea, from Lancashire Council of Mosques, follows the recent discovery of horsemeat in school dinners and is seen as the latest incident in a long-running battle surrounding halal meat in schools.
Last year a similar warning went out after fears that LCC’s latest suppliers of Halal products were not accredited by a certifying organisation that is in line with the Halal criteria adopted by the LCM in 2007.
A previous supplier had failed certification.
In its latest statement the LCM said: “The consumption of Halal food is a fundamental aspect of our faith and is central to the life of a practising Muslim.
“The responsibility for this distressing and unacceptable situation lies solely with Lancashire County Council.
“It is our view that the LCC has critically undermined the faith that thousands of Muslim families have in the food that is served in schools across Lancashire.
“The LCM hereby calls upon all Muslim families in Lancashire to boycott meals completely at all schools where the LCC are providing catering, including vegetarian and fish options. “
Parents are being asked to either send their children with packed lunches or take them home for lunch.
The statement adds: “The LCM does not accept the LCC’s claim of innocence or ignorance, as they have been provided with, and ignored, all necessary information about genuine Halal food.”
The county council said it adheres to strict policy on food standards and added: “The concerns identified by Lancashire County Council about horsemeat in the supplies sent to some of its schools are not specific to this organisation nor to Halal or non-Halal food.”
A spokesman said it was part of an international scandal affecting the food industry, and the county council had taken action over and above that of most local authorities in quickly testing fresh and frozen processed beef products it purchases on behalf of its schools, including suspending all frozen processed beef products from its schools.
Council leader Geoff Driver said: “We share parents’ anger over the discovery of horsemeat in products labelled as beef but there is no doubt the county council has taken all the steps parents would expect to ensure the quality of food served in its schools, and gone even further than most in identifying and preventing the contamination of meals with horsemeat.”