Pork found in Halal lamb burgers supplied to Leicester schools

 

Halal lamb burgers have been withdrawn from a city's schools after tests revealed a sample contained pork.

The decision follows DNA tests on a batch of frozen burgers manufactured by Doncaster-based Paragon Quality Foods Limited in January, Leicester Council said today.

Assistant city mayor 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."

Trevor Pringle, Leicester City Council's director of young people's services, said: "We understand that since March 1 this year, the product supplier, Paragon Quality Foods Limited, 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."

All other Halal products used in the council's kitchens - including 24 city schools - are supplied by another company, the council said.

They have been DNA-tested and found to be compliant, the authority added.

Suleman Nagdi, from the Federation of Muslim Organisations (FMO), 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 and Doncaster Metropolitan Council have launched their own investigations and further tests will be taken of the remaining stock, Leicester City Council said.

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."

The council said it has contacted the headteachers of the schools potentially affected to advise them of the action being taken.

It has written to parents of children at the schools concerned and meetings have also taken place with Muslim city councillors.

In a statement issued today, Paragon Quality Foods said it had "never knowingly bought or handled pork" and it was working with the relevant authorities.

The company's managing director Metin Pekin said: "We have been informed by a customer that a halal lamb burger produced by Paragon Quality Foods Ltd has tested positive for the presence of pork.

"Paragon Quality Foods Ltd is a pork-free site and has never knowingly bought or handled pork.

"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.

"We are working with Doncaster Borough Council on a daily basis to provide all information requested. They are fully satisfied with our practices and procedures.

"At present we are awaiting the results of further testing conducted by the relevant authorities, therefore we have no further comment at this time."

A Leicester City Council spokeswoman confirmed that 19 schools were supplied with the frozen burgers.

The authority was made aware of the issue about two weeks ago and stock was removed from shelves within hours, she said.

The council has written to 6,000 families whose children might have eaten the burgers.

Further testing has been done on samples from the removed stock and results are expected next week, the spokeswoman added.

The decision to remove halal lamb burgers from Leicester schools comes after a number of high-profile meat scandals this year.

In February, the Ministry of Justice said it was to suspend a firm supplying meat to prisons after tests found that it may have provided halal pies and pasties with traces of pork DNA.

And the horse meat scandal, which began to unfold in January, found frozen burgers supplied to several supermarkets including Tesco contained horse DNA.

Investigations later revealed other beef products sold by retailers including lasagne and spaghetti bolognese were contaminated while meals in schools and hospitals had to be withdrawn after it was found they contained horse meat.

Last month Asda reported a test on its smart price corned beef had tested positive for very low levels of horse drug phenylbutazone, or bute, which is banned from the human food chain.

PA

News
people
News
people And here is why...
News
peopleStella McCartney apologises over controversial Instagram picture
Life and Style
Laid bare: the Good2Go app ensures people have a chance to make their intentions clear about having sex
techCould Good2Go end disputes about sexual consent - without being a passion-killer?
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
Arts and Entertainment
Richard Burr remains the baker to beat on the Great British Bake Off
tvRichard remains the baker to beat as Chetna begins to flake
News
i100
Sport
footballArsenal 4 Galatasaray 1: Wenger celebrates 18th anniversary in style
Arts and Entertainment
Amazon has added a cautionary warning to Tom and Jerry cartoons on its streaming service
tv
News
people
News
The village was originally named Llansanffraid-ym-Mechain after the Celtic female Saint Brigit, but the name was changed 150 years ago to Llansantffraid – a decision which suggests the incorrect gender of the saint
newsWelsh town changes its name, but can you spot the difference?
Arts and Entertainment
Kristen Scott Thomas in Electra at the Old Vic
theatreReview: Kristin Scott Thomas is magnificent in a five-star performance of ‘Electra’
News
Destructive discourse: Jewish boys look at anti-Semitic graffiti sprayed on to the walls of the synagogue in March 2006, near Tel Aviv
peopleAt the start of Yom Kippur and with anti-Semitism flourishing, one Jew can no longer ignore his identity
Life and Style
Couples who boast about their relationship have been condemned as the most annoying Facebook users
tech
Arts and Entertainment
Hayley Williams performs with Paramore in New York
musicParamore singer says 'Steal Your Girl' is itself stolen from a New Found Glory hit
News
i100
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Associate Recrutiment Consultant

£18000 - £23000 per annum + Uncapped OTE: SThree: SThree Group have been well ...

Trainee Recruitment Consultant

£18000 - £23000 per annum + OTE: SThree: Real Staffing Group is seeking Traine...

Year 6 Teacher (interventions)

£120 - £140 per day: Randstad Education Leeds: We have an exciting opportunity...

PMLD Teacher

Competitive: Randstad Education Manchester: SEN Teacher urgently required for ...

Day In a Page

Italian couples fake UK divorce scam on an ‘industrial scale’

Welcome to Maidenhead, the divorce capital of... Italy

A look at the the legal tourists who exploited our liberal dissolution rules
Time to stop running: At the start of Yom Kippur and with anti-Semitism flourishing, one Jew can no longer ignore his identity

Time to stop running

At the start of Yom Kippur and with anti-Semitism flourishing, one Jew can no longer ignore his identity
Tom and Jerry cartoons now carry a 'racial prejudice' warning on Amazon

Tom and Jerry cartoons now carry a 'racial prejudice' warning on Amazon

The vintage series has often been criticised for racial stereotyping
An app for the amorous: Could Good2Go end disputes about sexual consent - without being a passion-killer?

An app for the amorous

Could Good2Go end disputes about sexual consent - without being a passion-killer?
Llansanffraid is now Llansantffraid. Welsh town changes its name, but can you spot the difference?

Llansanffraid is now Llansantffraid

Welsh town changes its name, but can you spot the difference?
Charlotte Riley: At the peak of her powers

Charlotte Riley: At the peak of her powers

After a few early missteps with Chekhov, her acting career has taken her to Hollywood. Next up is a role in the BBC’s gangster drama ‘Peaky Blinders’
She's having a laugh: Britain's female comedians have never had it so good

She's having a laugh

Britain's female comedians have never had it so good, says stand-up Natalie Haynes
Sistine Chapel to ‘sing’ with new LED lights designed to bring Michelangelo’s masterpiece out of the shadows

Let there be light

Sistine Chapel to ‘sing’ with new LEDs designed to bring Michelangelo’s masterpiece out of the shadows
Great British Bake Off, semi-final, review: Richard remains the baker to beat

Tensions rise in Bake Off's pastry week

Richard remains the baker to beat as Chetna begins to flake
Paris Fashion Week, spring/summer 2015: Time travel fashion at Louis Vuitton in Paris

A look to the future

It's time travel fashion at Louis Vuitton in Paris
The 10 best bedspreads

The 10 best bedspreads

Before you up the tog count on your duvet, add an extra layer and a room-changing piece to your bed this autumn
Arsenal vs Galatasaray: Five things we learnt from the Emirates

Arsenal vs Galatasaray

Five things we learnt from the Gunners' Champions League victory at the Emirates
Stuart Lancaster’s long-term deal makes sense – a rarity for a decision taken by the RFU

Lancaster’s long-term deal makes sense – a rarity for a decision taken by the RFU

This deal gives England a head-start to prepare for 2019 World Cup, says Chris Hewett
Ebola outbreak: The children orphaned by the virus – then rejected by surviving relatives over fear of infection

The children orphaned by Ebola...

... then rejected by surviving relatives over fear of infection
Pride: Are censors pandering to homophobia?

Are censors pandering to homophobia?

US film censors have ruled 'Pride' unfit for under-16s, though it contains no sex or violence