THOUSANDS of Muslim children in East Lancashire left with no meat in their school meals since the end of October will find halal products back on the menu by the end of this month.

The special food, prepared in accordance with Islamic law, was removed from all Lancashire County Council schools after it suddenly axed its contract with Blackburn supplier KQF Foods.

As well as 45 county council schools in Burnley, Pendle, Hyndburn and Rossendale, five schools in Blackburn with Darwen borough also supplied through the Preston-based authority’s central catering unit were affected.

The news has been given a qualified welcome by Lancashire Council of Mosques chairman Salim Mulla.

The county announced it has found new suppliers of halal meat products for re-introduction in schools where religious diets are required during the next two weeks.

Although a spokeswoman was unable to confirm whom the suppliers were or whether they were temporary or permanent, she said: “The new range has been tested for quality by the county council’s menu planning team, and all the appropriate food safety, traceability and halal accreditations are in place.”

Mr Mulla, a Blackburn with Darwen councillor, said: “We are pleased that new suppliers have been found and that halal meat will be back on the menu in all East Lancashire schools soon. We would like to know who the suppliers are so we can ensure they meet Lancashire Council of Mosques standards as KQF did.”

County council assistant director of catering Roger Eakhurst said: “We’d like to thank schools, pupils and families for their co-operation during the past month.

“We have offered a balanced diet to pupils throughout this period and the non-meat alternatives seem to have gone down very well.

“We are pleased to have sourced products which meet the food standards and halal accreditation requirements, and schools will be making a smooth transition to these new products.”

KQF boss Faruk Valli was not available for comment.