Leicester removes halal products from schools, following kebab discovery

Halal meat products have been taken off Leicester school menus, after one lamb product – a lamb sheek kebab – was found to contain more than 50% beef.

Leicester City Council made the discovery during routine testing, and all halal meat products were consequently removed from school menus as a precautionary measure. Nine Leicester schools are known to have been supplied with the kebabs.

Assistant city mayor, Cllr Vi Dempster, said: “It is not good enough that another halal product has been found to have content other than that listed on the label, and we regret any distress this may cause families and staff in our schools.

“As with the other meat products that were recently tested in Leicester and other parts of the country, there are no safety concerns here, but we need to have confidence in the food we are buying and, for that reason, we are removing all of the halal products from our schools.”

The council said the lamb sheek kebab was supplied by Punjab Kitchen, its nominated supplier of halal meat. However Yaqoob Ishaq from Punjab Kitchen told meatinfo.co.uk that it was unfair his company had been named, since it did not manufacture the product, but was supplied with it by Munshis Halal Ltd.

He said: “The press release by the council did not make it clear that the product in question was not manufactured by The Punjab Kitchen. The sheek kebabs were a bought-in product, upon which we had carried out our due diligence paperwork, and we feel we are entirely innocent of any wrongdoing.

“We were advised by Munshis Halal that the product was compliant with respect to current labelling laws and, of course, halal requirements. We fear the press exposure will have an adverse effect on our business, its reputation and put our workforce at risk. This would be grossly unfair as we have always had an exemplary reputation for having met the highest standards in product manufacturing, food hygiene and customer service.”

Munshis Halal managing director Y Patel said: “Although beef was detected in one of our products, there is no health or halal issue as our supplier, A R Halal Meats Ltd of Bradford, only deals in halal meat.”

Investigations are under way to determine where the problem arose, and the council has notified the Food Standards Agency of its findings.

Dempster said: “We will be talking to our schools about the future provision of halal meat meals, but in the meantime we are replacing them with fish and vegetarian alternatives.”  

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