Horsemeat traces found in local school kitchens
Traces of horsemeat have been found in food supplied to six city schools including Craigroyston, Pirniehall, St David’s and Forthview, the city council has confirmed.
Tests carried out on a batch of frozen mince in February found that the meat contained between 1% and 5% horsemeat. The sample was taken from the shared kitchen of Pirniehall and St David’s, and the same batch was also supplied to Forthview, Craigroyston, Oxgangs and Braidburn primary schools.
A letter from Mike Rosendale, Head of Schools and Community Services, has been sent to parents of pupils at each of the six schools, advising them of the test results and reassuring them that there is “no risk to health from consuming horsemeat”.
Councillor Cathy Fullerton (pictured below), the council’s vice convener of education, said: “It’s very important to emphasise that there is no risk whatsoever to people’s health from consuming horsemeat, but obviously we all want to be certain that we know exactly what we are eating. This is why the council chose to seek extra assurance that our external suppliers were not providing any products containing horsemeat by carrying out our own testing.
“Parents can be reassured that we have taken absolutely the correct course of action in immediately making sure there is none of this frozen mince remaining in school kitchens. We have written to all parents in the six schools to let them know about this and will be happy to discuss any further queries they may have.”
Food at all six of the schools is procured by the PPP contractor, who sourced the frozen mince from catering firm 3663. 3663 recalled all batches of this product on 8 March.
The council has been carrying out tests on meat products supplied to schools, residential homes and other local authority establishments since 14 February under the direction of the Food Standards Agency as part of their UK-wide authenticity survey. Eighty-five meat product samples have been taken from council catering establishments to date and to date all except one have tested negative for the presence of horsemeat. The results have been reported to the Food Standards Agency.
Alison Johnstone, Green MSP for Lothian and food spokesperson for the Scottish Greens, says the confirmation is further proof that we need to rethink our approach to food. She said: “This latest revelation will be a great worry for parents and it proves we need greater investment and increased traceability in our publicly-procured meals. The council’s website claims that it uses local suppliers for meat so it is extremely important we are told what has gone wrong.
“I have real concerns about the way our schools have moved away from real meals cooked in proper kitchens to ready meals heated up in microwaves. It’s also hard to have confidence when the many of our schools are supplied by massive companies who describe themselves as strategic outsourcing providers rather than caterers, and whose main motive is profit. This isn’t exactly suprising as public procurement favours cheaper bids.
”In recent months in parliament I have highlighted the Soil Association’s Food for Life programme which currently ensures one in ten schools in Scotland has confidence about where its food comes from. I again urge ministers to increase their support for the scheme and encourage local authorities to adopt it.”