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Westminster Council has pulled ALL meat from school menus, after pork was found in Halal chicken sausages.
Tests also show lamb and pork DNA has been found in lean minced beef. An investigation's underway.
Westminster City Councilstatement on school meals:
Westminster Council can this afternoon (Thursday March 14th) confirm that tests have established the presence of pork DNA in Halal chicken sausages that have been served in at least one Westminster primary school (that forms part of the school meals central contract).
Other tests revealed that lean minced beef supplied to us showed evidence of lamb and pork DNA.
The authority immediately ensured both items were removed from all school menus. And in a further step we have instructed our contractor to temporarily cease supplying meat until this issue is resolved.
In the meantime Westminster City Council has asked our contractor to no longer use its Halal meat supplier.
The issue only came to light after the authority decided to carry out its own proactive tests on food contamination in the wake of the horse meat scandal. WCC officers took seven samples in total from three schools in the week beginning 25th February. These tests were carried out on our own initiative and not carried out as the result of any specific concerns about school food standards.
The testing involved analysis for the presence of DNA from beef, lamb, pork, chicken, turkey, goat and horse.
All tests proved negative for horse DNA. However, a preliminary report* was received on Friday 8th March which suggested pig DNA could be present in the Halal chicken sausages range**. The result was found in one sample taken at a Westminster primary school.
A further round of tests today confirmed the preliminary findings.
-The Halal sausages were a menu choice in 15 primary schools; two nurseries; one special school and one pupil referral unit. --These schools take Halal only meat. The lean minced beef was used in 18 schools.
-The authority has meanwhile launched its own investigation to establish how the contamination arose.
Andrew Christie, Westminster City Council's Tri-borough director of children's services, said:
"We are very concerned by the discovery that a contractor has fallen short of the high standards we demand. We also understand and regret the upset that may have been caused to parents and children alike. We are contacting schools, parents and faith group leaders and are offering to meet them to discuss their concerns.
"Westminster City Council took prompt action when this issue came to light and immediately ensured this product stopped being served in the schools in question. We have asked our contractor Chartwells to no longer use the meat supplier involved.
"The discovery of pork in these sausages came about because of extra tests Westminster City Council decided to carry out. The results were all the more shocking given the assurances about the food we receive from our suppliers. I can assure parents we will keep testing our school meals."
Westminster City Council alerted the Food Standards Agency on March 11th in accordance with the usual protocols for incidents of this kind.