Frozen beef off menu for Scottish councils

Scotland’s councils have been told not to use any frozen beef products after a burger containing horse DNA was found in a school kitchen.

Scotland’s councils have been told not to use any frozen beef products after a burger containing horse DNA was found in a school kitchen.

North Lanarkshire Council said a frozen burger supplied by Brakes Group to Cumbernauld High School was found to be contaminated with horse DNA.

It said the situation was “simply unacceptable” and a spokesman was not able to confirm that the products had not already been consumed.

Local authorities across Scotland were earlier advised to “place a hold” on frozen beef burgers following the discovery.

It means schools, council leisure facilities and some social care establishments have also been told not to use any current stocks they have of frozen beef products, including mince.

They were also advised not to order any new stocks until the outcome of detailed investigations.

The move was confirmed by procurement agency Scotland Excel, which deals with contracts on a national basis.

It recommended councils and other public-sector customers to take a “precautionary approach” and take all frozen beef products off the menu.

A spokesman for North Lanarkshire Council said: “We are now in a position to confirm that the frozen burger found to contain horse DNA yesterday was supplied by Brakes Group to Cumbernauld High School.

“It is simply unacceptable to the council that a supplier would supply a product containing horse DNA to one of our schools.

“We will continue discussions with Scotland Excel with a view to ensuring we are satisfied with the integrity of food supplied to us.

“In the meantime, we have removed all frozen beef products from our menus across all our premises. We will continue to carry out additional testing in the coming days.

“We cannot confirm that these products have not been consumed. However, the consumption of horsemeat is not considered harmful to health.

“This is a consumer confidence issue: when we buy a product we expect it to contain what it says on the label.

“We will continue to take any action necessary to ensure the integrity of the food supplied to our establishments.”

Brakes Group has also placed an immediate hold on its beef burgers as a precautionary measure, but said it has received almost 200 negative results when testing for horse DNA in products supplied to the school in Cumbernauld.

A spokesman said: “On February 21 we were informed by the Food Standards Agency (FSA) that a frozen beef burger had tested positive for horse DNA following a sample taken from a local authority school in Scotland.

“Before this incident, Brakes has already received negative test results on all 127 beef products supplied to that customer.

“In addition, Brakes had received 32 negative tests results on products that we buy from the same supplier and they, in turn, had 28 negative tests on finished products and raw material they handle.

“We have a duty of care to all our customers. Until we are able to ascertain the facts, we have placed the beef burger on hold as a precaution.

“All customers are currently being contacted to ensure they hold the product in a segregated area while we, and the FSA, continue investigations.

“We apologise for any inconvenience this may cause.”

News of the discovery in North Lanarkshire emerged last night after frozen burgers were removed for testing last week.

Samples of frozen mince came back negative for horse DNA.

A spokesman for Scotland Excel said: “In response to discovery of horse DNA in a frozen beef burger at North Lanarkshire Council, we immediately issued an advisory note to our customers recommending they place a hold on the use of current stocks of frozen burgers.

“Since then, we have consulted widely with regulatory agencies, environmental health officers and our customers and we have taken the decision today to recommend to all of our customers that they should take a precautionary approach and suspend further use of all frozen beef products, including frozen mince, until further detailed investigations are completed.

“It is important to emphasise that this is a purely precautionary measure and, at this time, no other samples of frozen beef products have returned a positive result for horse DNA.”

The advice does not apply to the supply and use of fresh butcher meat.

The FSA said investigations were continuing to find the source of the burger.

A statement on their website said: “FSA is aware that North Lanarkshire Council has reported a positive result for horse DNA in a frozen beef burger that they submitted for sampling.

“Investigations are ongoing to determine the source of the burger.”

The North Lanarkshire Council spokesman said its 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.

He said: “We have issued answers to some common questions on this subject to schools and this is available on our website at www.northlanarkshire.gov.uk.”

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