Horsemeat found in school meals

Horsemeat has been found in more beef products – including school meals.

Catering giant Compass Group and hotel chain Whitbread have both found horse DNA in products sold as beef, it emerged on Friday (15 February).

Separately, horsemeat has been found in cottage pies supplied to schools in Lancashire.

Lancashire County Council withdrew a beef product from 47 school kitchens after it provisionally tested positive for traces of horse DNA.

The provisional results of the tests on a pre-prepared cottage pie from an external supplier have been passed on to the Food Standards Agency.

County councillor Susie Charles said: “We share the concerns people have about what is clearly a major problem in food supplies across the UK and Europe.”

Meanwhile, the first set of industry results from beef products tested for the presence of horse DNA have been published by the Food Standards Agency.

Of 2,501 test results, 29 were positive, containing undeclared horsemeat at or above a level of 1%.

The remainder were negative for the prescence of horse DNA.

The 29 positive results all relate to products already reported and where the food business and the agency have already taken action to remove the products from sale.

Agency chief executive Catherine Brown said: “Since this incident began on 16 January, businesses have been carrying out a large number of tests.

“We said that industry should share those results with us, and the public, and we asked for the first results to be with us today.

“The results so far date from when businesses began its testing four weeks ago. They include results that were received by companies up to around 10am this morning.”

Samples were carried out on both raw ingredients and final products, and taken from a range of manufacturers, catering suppliers, wholesalers, producers and retailers across the UK.

Where products have been found to contain horse DNA, they have been tested for the presence of veterinary drug phenylbutazone, known as bute.

All of the tests for bute have come back negative.

Ms Brown said that in the vast majority of cases the results so far were showing that no horse DNA was present in the foods tested.

But she added: “This is still far from the full picture and we expect industry to continue to supply us with regular updates on their testing regime.”

Further results are expected over the coming weeks and the agency is expected to publish another update on Friday, 22 February.

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