Calls For School Dinners To Be DNA Tested

Lib Dems say parents need to be reassured meals are safe


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In the wake of the horse meat scandal there have been calls for Ealing Council to carry out DNA tests on school food

This week some local authorities have started to take processed meat products off the menus in schools, children’s centres and meals for the elderly.  Some councils have also detected traces of horse meat in products provided by their suppliers.

The main concerns in the scandal centre on the number of products that have been found to contain traces of horse meat, the labelling of these products and the safety of these products.  There are fears that some horse meat contain traces of bute, a painkiller used with horses which has potential health risks for humans.

Ealing Liberal Democrats have now written to the Council’s Chief Executive urging the council to reveal:

what, if any, steps the council has taken so far to check the safety of beef or processed meat products used by the council’s staff, contractors or suppliers.

: whether these investigations have found any grounds for concern

: what, if any, further action is being considered by the authority in response to growing public concern and to reassure residents

: whether the issue has been raised by Ealing parents, users or schools and what advice is being given by the Council

 Ealing Liberal Democrat Group leader, Councillor Gary Malcolm, said:

“The horse meat scandal has blown up out of nowhere and is a fast-moving situation with each day bringing new theories and revelations.

“This week some Councils have either withdrawn products from their menus and now some have even found contaminated meat in their food.  That’s why it is vital that Council bosses reassure residents about the situation here.

“I hope the council will want to be absolutely sure that the products being supplied to schools and residents are what they claim to be.  It is not acceptable for the council to remain silent and just hope this issue goes away.”

A council spokesperson said:

"We have sought assurances from our suppliers that the meals provided to schools comply with food safety and food hygiene standards.

"We provide catering services for 59 primary and special schools under a contract with Harrisons who have Food for Life accreditation and use farm assured UK meat. Eight other high and primary schools use catering companies Chartwells and Caterlink, who say they have found no evidence of contamination and are continuing to test their products. The remainder of schools, and the borough's academies, make their own catering arrangements."

Brentside High, Acton high, Greenford High, Ravenor Primary, Gifford Primary, Downe Manor Primary and Featherstone Primary use a catering contractor called Chartwells. The latest statement from Chartwells is:

"We have received assurances from all our suppliers that there is no contamination in the supply chain. Where they have conducted their own DNA tests the results are all fine. We have commenced our own DNA testing programme but the results will not be known until next week. So we can say there is no evidence of contamination in the supply chain to MITIE schools."

The latest statement from Caterlink:

"Caterlink can confirm we do not use any meat based product from Findus and other suppliers currently associated with the on-going FSA investigation. Caterlink is proud of our farm to fork journey which ensures that we can trace the origin of our freshly prepared meat dishes to the farm where the animals are reared. All of our suppliers are audited by an external body to ensure that they comply with our and statutory obligations."



20th February 2013


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