Horsemeat found in Scottish school burgers

Burgers are being removed from school menus after horsemeat was found in frozen beefburgers in a school kitchen in Scotland.

Traces of horse DNA were detected in a frozen burger in a school kitchen near Glasgow in North Lanarkshire.

The burger was removed from the school kitchen for testing last week. It was found to contain traces of horse DNA and investigations are continuing to determine the source of contamination.

As a result, stocks of beefburger products have been removed from North Lanarkshire school kitchens as a precaution. The council has notified the Food Standards Agency, as it is required to do, and investigations are continuing.

Procurement agency Scotland Excel has advised Scottish councils to stop using frozen beef while investigations continue.

“Our investigations are focusing on the use of frozen burger supplies during the past three months, the maximum length of time these would be held in storage,” said North Lanarkshire Council, in a statement.

“We are working closely with the FSA and Scotland Excel and will continue to take any action necessary to ensure the integrity of foods used in our establishments.”

However, frozen mince taken from the school kitchens for DNA testing tested negative for horse DNA, added the council.

An FSA spokesman said: “FSA is aware that North Lanarkshire Council has reported a positive result for horse DNA in a frozen beefburger that they submitted for sampling. Investigations are ongoing to determine the source of the burger.”

Scottish rural affairs secretary Richard Lochhead said: “It is unaccpetable that a burger which has tested positive for traces of horse DNA was supplied to a school in North Lanarkshire.

“However, North Lanarkshire Council have taken immediate action to withdraw the product from the schools and as a precautionary measure all Scottish schools have been advised to put a hold on the use of frozen burgers.”

He added: “Of the thousands of tests, this is the first positive result in our schools, but it is one too many. No company should be supplying our schools with food with beef products that contain traces of horsemeat.”

Meanwhile, seven Welsh councils said they were supplied with burgers made by a company where samples tested positive for horse DNA.

Burgers containing horsemeat have been discovered at three agricultural campuses in Northern Ireland, confirmed Michelle O’Neill, the province’s agriculture minister.

In a separate development, Birds Eye has recalled ready meals as a “precautionary measure” after traces of horse DNA were detected in a chilli con carne product made for the company.

Birds Eye said in a statement: “We want to reassure you from the testing we have completed that all Birds Eye beef burgers, beef pies and beef platters do not contain horse DNA.

“Regrettably, we have found one product, chilli con carne, produced for us by Frigilunch NV and sold in Belgium, that has tested positive for horse DNA at 2%.

“While this is not a food safety issue, it is clearly unacceptable. In accordance with our high standards, we are immediately withdrawing this product from sale in Belgium.

“As a precautionary measure in the UK and Ireland we will withdraw all other products produced by the same supplier, namely traditional spaghetti bolognese 340g, shepherd’s pie 400g and beef lasagne 400g.”

* The FSA is preparing to announce the latest results of tests for horsemeat in processed beef products.

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