Foreign and processed meat withdrawn from Medway school dinners
by Dan Bloom
All processed meat - along
with all imported beef - has been taken off the menu in
Medway’s schools amid the horsemeat scandal.
Medway Council’s catering firm
Chartwells told schools yesterday that it is now only using beef
from the UK and Ireland.
As an extra measure, the council
has also banned all processed meat from its school meals until
The move comes six weeks after
concerns were first raised about horsemeat being sold as beef.
Chartwells is still
carrying out a DNA testing programme across all its processed meat
products to test if any contain horse.
The firm supplies more than
three-quarters of schools in the Towns, with the rest using other
firms or in-house catering.
One of more than 80 schools thought
to be affected in Medway is Luton Junior School, where a beef dish
similar to meatballs was replaced with vegetarian pizza
However, head teacher Davinder
Jandu said she trusted Chartwells and the menu would soon be back
to normal with British and Irish beef.
"It won’t have a huge effect," she
said. "In terms of the bigger picture I think it’s probably one
item a week.
"We’ve had quite a good experience
with them, when we plan the menu we make sure we have a roast
dinner every week.
"When I first came I had a meeting
with them about things I wasn’t happy about and they were very
proactive and they were able to sort out the things that needed to
be addressed very quickly."
Chartwells signed a three-year, £5m
contract with Medway Council to provide school meals in June 2009.
It was later extended to July 2014.
The firm began investigating after
its parent firm, the Compass Group, said it supplied a Rangeland
burger product containing horse to sites in Ireland and Northern
A Medway Council spokesman insisted
the move was a precaution, and there was no suggestion there was
any horsemeat in the meals which have been withdrawn.
He added: "The majority of meals
provided to pupils are freshly made on the school premises and do
not involve processed meat."
Food Standards Agency tests have
showed 29 out of more than 2,500 products contained more than 1%
horsemeat, with the cause put down to a large-scale criminal fraud
reaching across Europe.
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