Sheffield school meals reassurance in meat scandal

Youngsters eat school meals at High Storrs School in Sheffield
Youngsters eat school meals at High Storrs School in Sheffield
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EDUCATION chiefs in Sheffield have reassured parents about the suppliers they use for school meals after the national horse meat scandal.

Several supermarket products have been removed from sale after it was revealed horse meat, rather than beef, had been used in some ready-meals and processed meat dishes.

But Sheffield Council’s school meals contractor Taylor Shaw says it uses only UK butchers for its fresh meals - and a Rotherham firm provides most of the meat for Sheffield school dinners.

For extra ‘vigilance’ it has spoken to all its suppliers, urging them to test all beef products - as ordered by The Food Standards Agency nationally, by Friday.

A Taylor Shaw spokesman added: “As a company we take the provenance of our products very seriously.

“All our suppliers are required to undertake a rigorous due diligence process to ensure all products are traceable and from reliable sources.

“The fact we produce the majority of our meals from fresh ingredients supplied by UK butchers is reassurance as we are not using meat sourced from abroad.

“The latest information regarding cross-contamination of meat has given rise to the need for additional vigilance, although as a company we do not use any of the products mentioned or indeed take product from the named manufacturers.”

Taylor Shaw also stressed all its halal meat comes from authenticated suppliers.

Jayne Ludlam, executive director for children, young people and families at Sheffield Council, said most meat used in Sheffield school meals comes from Underwoods Meats, of Rotherham.

And only British beef is used, with burgers and sausages coming from a firm called Brakes, which was no connections with any companies involved in the horse meat row.

She added: “Under our contract with Taylor Shaw, very little pre-prepared food is used in the preparation of school meals.

“Dishes are made from fresh meat and supplies are brought in two or three times a week to make sure there is as little frozen meat product as possible.

“Dishes such as lasagne and meat-and-potato pie are made by the cooks themselves to agreed recipes.

“The service is also regularly monitored to make sure this is carried out to the council’s expectations.”

Derbyshire County Council has also reassured parents its school meals are ‘free from horse meat’. It takes its meat from local organic farms, with no ready meals.

n SHEFFIELD-based Euro MP Linda McAvan has called for a review of food labelling and tighter rules after the horse meat scandal.

The Yorkshire and the Humber Labour MEP, who is married to Sheffield Central MP Paul Blomfield, is concerned ‘unchecked and unlabelled’ meat is used in ready meals.

She said there had been EU plans in 2011 for more rigid labelling about the origin of meat in products such as ready meals, but the proposals were scrapped after the food industry objected.

Ms McAvan, a member of the European Parliament’s committee on Public Health and Food Safety, said: “Now with products withdrawn from shelves, millions lost to business and confidence shattered, a review must be urgently brought forward.”

Horsemeat scandal timeline:

* The scandal broke in mid-January, when Irish food inspectors announced they had found horse meat in some burgers stocked by UK supermarkets including Tesco, Iceland and Lidl.

* A number of products have been withdrawn from sale, including Findus beef lasagne, Aldi Today’s Special frozen beef lasagne and Today’s Special frozen spaghetti bolognese, Tesco Everyday Value spaghetti bolognese, Tesco Everyday Value eight-pack of frozen beef burgers, Tesco four-pack of frozen beef quarter pounders, and Flamehouse frozen chargrilled quarter pounders.

* Food retailers in the UK have been told to carry out tests on all processed beef products. The FSA has given a deadline of this Friday for the first set of results.

* The Government has advised people to carry on with their normal shopping unless told otherwise.

* Horse meat itself should be no more dangerous than beef - and is eaten in countries around the world including France, Italy and China.

* But the UK’s Food Standards Agency has ordered tests, to make sure a drug - bute - given to horses, and dangerous to humans, has not entered the food chain.