Halal lamb burgers removed from school menus
More UK schools have removed halal meat products from their menus, after tests revealed traces of pork in a Leicester school lamb burger.
Tests carried out on a ‘halal’ lamb burger, manufactured by Doncaster-based Paragon Quality Foods Limited, on behalf of Leicester City council, showed traces of pork DNA. The results have come in the same week Luton Borough Council removed halal meat and poultry products from 18 schools after concerns were raised.
Leicester council said halal products are used in 24 of its schools, however, the frozen lamb burgers are the only product supplied by Paragon and were manufactured in January. “All other halal products used in the council’s production kitchens are supplied by another company. These products have been DNA tested and found to be compliant”, the council claimed.
Director of young people’s services at the council Trevor Pringle said: “We understand that since 1 March this year, the product supplier, Paragon Quality Foods Limited, has only been releasing product to customers after obtaining negative DNA results for pork.
“However, as a precautionary measure we have removed all of the burgers we had in stock from this supplier whilst further investigation is carried out, and we will not be purchasing any further products from this supplier.”
Meanwhile assistant city councillor Vi Dempster said she was appalled by the situation and described it as “disgraceful that none of us can have confidence in the food we eat”. She also said that any distress caused to families and staff was regrettable and offered reassurance that robust action would be taken to address the serious matter.
The council has been working with the Federation of Muslim Organisations (FMO) since the discovery of the contaminated lamb burger. Mr Suleman Nagdi MBE DL of FMO explained that the community would be shocked and distressed by the discovery.
“The FMO is working closely with the local authority and calling on them to take legal action in respect of this contamination and would urge the local authority to instigate criminal proceedings against the company involved under the Food Safety Act,” he said.
“The FMO feel that such a prosecution would be in the public interest and would send a clear message to all businesses in this sector that contamination will not be tolerated.”
The Food Standards Agency is investigating how the contamination happened, along with Doncaster Metropolitan council.
Pringle added: “We have made it clear to our suppliers that this is totally unacceptable, and we are taking urgent legal advice about the next steps.”
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