Firm in pork halal lamb burger row plans legal action

By Mike Stones

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags: Leicester, Leicester city council

Paragon Quality Foods said claims its halal lamb burgers were contaminated with pork had 'unfairly damaged its good reputation'
Paragon Quality Foods said claims its halal lamb burgers were contaminated with pork had 'unfairly damaged its good reputation'
Paragon Quality Foods – the meat processor accused of supplying halal lamb burgers contaminated with pork to Leicester City Council – is considering legal action after independent tests confirmed the authenticity of its products, its spokesman told FoodManufacture.co.uk.

The Doncaster-based meat processor said claims that its halal lamb burger contained up to 50% pork​ were not based on a formal controlled sample in which samples are retained for further independent analysis.

Metin Pekin, the firm’s md, said in a statement: “We have since obtained the DNA data upon which this report was based and sent it to an independent specialist​. Based on the conclusion of this specialist, Paragon is satisfied and pleased to announce that the DNA data in actual fact shows that the burger should have been declared as pork free.”

Pekin said Leicester City Council had conducted nine formal tests on various batches of  the manufacturer’s halal lamb burgers made between October 2012 and March 2013. “I am pleased to announce that all of the results confirm that Paragon Halal Lamb burgers were clear of pork.

‘Good reputation has been unfairly damaged’

Our good reputation has been unfairly damaged by the publications since May 8 2013 and we trust that it will now be fully restored.”

No one from the council was available to comment on the prospect of legal action.

But, speaking last week, a spokesman said: “We still await the detailed results of the second test on the affected batch of burgers. We can confirm that we have commissioned our own tests on different batches of the burgers removed from our schools.

“However, as this is part of an active investigation we can’t comment on the findings of those tests, as this may prejudice any future legal proceedings.”

Speaking when the contamination was discovered at the beginning of this month, Vi Dempster, assistant city mayor councillor, slammed the news as “disgraceful”​ and apologised to students and parents.

‘I am appalled by this situation’

“I am appalled by this situation. It is disgraceful that none of us can have confidence in the food we eat,”​ said Dempster. “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.”

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. The council said the sample burger was one of a batch of frozen burgers manufactured by Paragon Quality Foods in January this year.

Meanwhile, food contamination was the subject of a free one-hour webinar, which took place last Thursday May 16. Listen to the webinar – which featured the Food Standards Agency, Mintel, Leatherhead Food Research and business law firm and event sponsor DWF – here​ and read the highlights here​.

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