Pork DNA in halal lamb burgers ‘disgraceful’: Council

By Mike Stones

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags Paragon quality foods Food safety

Leicester Council has removed lamb burgers from 24 schools after tests revealed pork DNA
Leicester Council has removed lamb burgers from 24 schools after tests revealed pork DNA
A Leicester Council official has slammed as “disgraceful” news that pork has been discovered in the halal lamb burgers served in the city’s schools.

Assistant city mayor councillor Vi Dempster said: “I am appalled by this situation. It is disgraceful that none of us can have confidence in the food we eat. 

“We regret any distress this will cause families and staff, and would like to reassure them that robust action is being taken to address this serious matter.”

Food contamination is the subject of a free one-hour webinar​, taking place at 11am on Thursday May 16. See the end of this article for more details.

Leicester Council removed lamb burgers from the menus of 24 schools after DNA tests conducted by Eastern Shires Purchasing Organisation revealed the presence of pork in a sample burger.

Batch of frozen burgers

The sample burger was one of a batch of frozen burgers manufactured by Doncaster-based Paragon Quality Foods in January this year.

Trevor Pringle, the city council’s director of young people’s services, said: “We understand that since March 1 this year, the product supplier, Paragon Quality Foods, has only been releasing product to customers after obtaining negative DNA results for pork.

“However, as a precautionary measure we have removed all of the burgers we had in stock from this supplier whilst further investigation is carried out, and we will not be purchasing any further products from this supplier.

“We have made it clear to our suppliers that this is totally unacceptable, and we are taking urgent legal advice about the next steps.”

Paragon Quality Foods’ md Metin Pekin said in a statement that the firm’s production facility is a pork-free site and that the company has “never knowingly bought or handled pork”.

He added: “We have carried out a full traceability of the product in question and have provided this information to the relevant enforcement authorities.

​The public analyst at Doncaster Borough Council has conducted unannounced formal sampling of our products on two occasions, with clear results.”

Pekin said he was supplying all the information requested by Doncaster Borough Council and that it was “fully satisfied”​ with the firm’s  practices and procedures and information requested.

Paragon Quality Foods was awaiting the results of further testing conducted by the relevant authorities, said Pekin.

Paragon Quality Foods

Leicester Council said the lamb burger was the only product supplied by the company. All other halal products used in the council’s kitchens were supplied by another company and DNA tests of its products have revealed no contamination.

It confirmed Suleman Nagdi, of the Federation of Muslim Organisations (FMO), was assisting its investigations.

Nagdi said: “The community will be extremely shocked and distressed to learn of the contamination that has taken place.

“The FMO is working closely with the local authority and calling on them to take legal action in respect of this contamination and would urge the local authority to instigate criminal proceedings against the company involved under the Food Safety Act.

“The FMO feel that such a prosecution would be in the public interest and would send a clear message to all businesses in this sector that contamination will not be tolerated.”

The Food Standards Agency (FSA) and Doncaster Metropolitan Council are also investigating the origin of the pork contamination.

Adrian Russell, the council’s director of environmental and enforcement services, said: “The city council is pressing the relevant authorities to investigate this matter as rigorously as possible. Food fraud is a serious offence and those responsible should face the full force of the law.”

Meanwhile, how to guard against food contamination is the subject of a free one-hour webinar organised by the Food Manufacture​ Group to be staged at 11am GMT on Thursday May 16. Taking part in the webinar on the lessons to be learnt from the horsemeat scandal will be the FSA, Mintel, Leatherhead Food Research and event sponsor business law firm DWF.

Book your free place here​.

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