Pork DNA found in school’s halal chicken sausages

By Mike Stones

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags: Meat, London

Westminster Council said the discovery of pork DNA was ‘all the more shocking’ given the assurances about the food it received from suppliers
Westminster Council said the discovery of pork DNA was ‘all the more shocking’ given the assurances about the food it received from suppliers
Westminster Council has revealed that pork DNA has been discovered in halal chicken sausages served in at least one of its primary schools.

The contaminated sausages were served at a Church of England school, St Mary’s Bryanston Square.

Tests also revealed pork and lamb DNA in lean minced beef sampled at Burdett Coutts School.

Westminster Council said the DNA was found after it commissioned its own food tests following the horsemeat scandal. No horsemeat was found in any samples.  

Andrew Christie, Westminster City Council’s 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.”

‘Regret the upset’

Christie added that the council acted “immediately”​ to withdraw the product and asked its contractor, Chartwells to no longer use the meat supplier involved. Chartwells is part of the Compass Group.

“The discovery of pork in these sausages came about because of extra tests Westminster City Council decided to carry out,”​ said Christie. “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.”

The council confirmed that more than 7,000 school meals are served to primary pupils in Westminster each day. “Of these 4,400 pupils have halal chicken sausages as an option,”​ said the council.

The halal sausages were on offer at 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. Westminster Council has launched an investigation to trace the source of the contamination.

‘Totally unacceptable’

Meanwhile, the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA) said it was “totally unacceptable”​ if food labelled as halal has been found to contain pork.

“Food manufacturers and suppliers have a responsibility to make sure that the food they serve is what they say it is,”​ the spokesman told BBC News. “The FSA is working with Westminster City Council to establish what happened.”

The spokesman added that DEFRA, the Food Standards Agency and the Department for Communities and Local Government today (March 14) met organisations involved in halal and kosher food to discuss labelling and certification.

No one from Muslim Council of Britain was available to speak to FoodManufacture.co.uk.

Both the Muslim and Jewish faiths outlaw the consumption of pigmeat.

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