A supplier which provided Lancashire County Council with beef burgers found to contain horse DNA could be “just as much a victim” as the schools given the meat, it was claimed today.
County Coun Geoff Driver, leader of Lancashire County Council, said he would not be naming the supplier which has provided county schools with cottage pies and Halal beefburgers found to contain horse DNA.
It comes after the council yesterday suspended the use of all processed beef meals in schools after testing found horse DNA in Halal burgers provided to four schools.
Earlier this month, 47 schools were supplied with cottage pies found to contain horse DNA.
County Coun Driver said the test results, discovered by scientists at LCC’s own labs in Preston, were “extremely disappointing”, but he would not be revealing the supplier or the schools affected.
“The supplier could be just as much a victim as us,” he said. “What we have done is passed the information to the Food Standards Agency and it is up to them to make the decision as to who put the DNA in the product.”
He added: “I hope that parents and children can be reassured by the advice that this isn’t a food safety issue, however it is frankly appalling that we have found horsemeat in two products which were supposedly 100 per cent beef.
“These products came from manufacturers who not only carry all the correct certification but who also recently provided us with written assurances their products did not contain horsemeat.
“Few if any local councils across the country have been as proactive as we have in testing their school meals and unfortunately the results show we were right to act on the concerns raised by what has become an international scandal.
“Under the circumstances, with children returning from their half term break today, we feel we have no choice but to withdraw all frozen processed beef products as a precaution until the food industry and regulators do something to restore confidence in what people are being fed.” Changes to the county council’s school meals menu will take place with immediate effect.