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'Anger shared by everyone over horsemeat' say Lancashire council chiefs
COUNCIL chiefs said they “share the anger of Muslim parents” after horse meat was found in halal meat supplied for school meals.
But the Lancashire Council of Mosques has called for an immediate boycott of all school meals provided by Lancashire County Council.
Following the second such incident this month, the county council dropped processed beef products from all school menus on Monday after horse DNA was found in burgers supplied to four unnamed secondary schools in the county.
The revelation came shortly after horse meat was found in school meal cottage pies analysed at the council’s laboratories.
A council spokesman said that the four schools affected had been told immediately and that parents were being informed.
Chairman of the Lancashire Council of Mosques, Blackburn councillor Salim Mulla said he was angry that the county council had not named the schools.
He said: “The responsibility for this distressing and unacceptable situation lies solely with the LCC. It is our view that the LCC have critically undermined the faith that thousands of Muslim families have in the food that is served in schools across Lancashire.”
Defending their actions, Geoff Driver, leader of Lancashire County Council, said: "I share the anger of Muslim parents; we all have a right to trust that the food we eat is what we believe it to be.
"However this issue goes beyond the supply of halal meat and affects the processed food industry as a whole.
“We have strict procurement rules in place that insist on food quality and safety and in the matter of halal accreditation we are guided by the Food Standards Agency, which consults with Muslim bodies nationally.
“There is absolutely nothing at all to suggest that had we followed the Lancashire Council of Mosques' demands this could have been avoided.
“We were forced to change halal food suppliers last year precisely because the supplier we previously used, which was insisted upon by the LCM, failed to provide adequate assurances about the source and shelf life of its products. The council said that a range of different halal chicken dishes remain on the menu as well as non-meat options.
A council spokesman said they would not be disclosing the identity of the meat supplier involved as they believed they were also the victims of food mis-labelling or fraud earlier in the supply chain.
The county’s analysis of the affected samples has been passed on to the Food Standards Agency who said they were also not naming suppliers.